The tale of the long awaited trousers

Hello. Would you like to hear a story? (I warn you, it’s a long story with lots of photo’s, so make sure you have the right specs on.) Well, grab yourself a drink, make yourself comfortable and I’ll begin..

Once upon a time there was a woman. Once upon a time there was a woman who couldn’t find any trousers that fit. She went in this shop and that shop, in her own town and other towns but still she struggled. Some were just too small. Some were too low cut and left her tummy flolloping over the top. Some went round her hips but had a 2 inch gap at the waist that the wind howled through. Some were too high cut in the crotch and, well, I won’t go into what that meant but it Wasn’t Good.

Finally she was left with two pairs of OK jeans in her wardrobe, a purple pair and a pink pair that fit pretty ok and she wore them A Lot, but she wasn’t sure what she would do when they wore out. Then, one day she ended up in IKEA and found some denim fabric with woven in mulitcoloured stripes that she knew would make some great trousers, so she bought some.

Behold the stripey denim in all it's glory

Behold the stripey denim in all it’s glory

Having once made trousers before, she was wary of patterns that looked like they were for proper trousers, but didn’t actually have a zip, or had facings instead of a waistband. So she spent some time looking at blog posts about trouser patterns but didn’t get any nearer to making them.

Then came New Years Eve and the children were behaving so badly that she’d had it Up To Here with them, so she stormed out of the house (leaving her ever capable husband in charge) and walked in turn to every shop in the city that could conceivably be selling trouser patterns, until she finally found one that was open and was selling a pattern she’d seen reviewed well online, so she bought it, intending to start upon it the very next day. Which of course, she didn’t.

Eventually, she did start a muslin. She measured and cut and sewed. She sewed one pocket on backwards, but decided that didn’t matter. She kept going, until it was time to insert the zip. The thought of inserting a zip in trousers that were never going to actually get worn made her tired, so she put them on one side. And there they lay. And then a forest of rose thorns grew around them until one day a hundred years later, a prince rode along and … No, hang on, that’s the wrong story. She put them on one side on a pile of UFO’s and tried to forget about them.

The summer came and she wore linen trousers and skirts. And still the trouser muslin sat on the pile. Then the autumn came and she discovered her pink and blue jeans were starting to fall apart and had mysteriously shrunk over the summer. So she made tunics to wear with leggings and found a okayish fitting pair of expensive jeans from a different shop than the fallyapart ones and wore them. And still the trouser muslin sat on the UFO pile. Then autumn turned to winter and the weather grew colder and now she was wearing the jeans nearly all the time (except when they were in the wash) and she really needed more trousers but couldn’t face shopping. And still the trousers muslin sat on the UFO pile.

Then one day she saw an advert for a trouser making course locally, so she booked on the course straight away. As the time for the course drew nearer she got excited that she was finally going to have some trousers and also she might be able to take part in February’s trouser theme month on the Curvy Sewing Collective. As her ever capable husband was less capable than usual, since he was convalescing with broken bones, she arranged a baby sitter to ensure that she could get to the course and was really looking forward to it. Then, less than a week before the course started, she contacted them to find out what she needed to bring etc, and found out It Had Been Cancelled.

What I found on the pile

What I found on the pile (in two separate places, cue mild panic for several minutes as I thought I’d lost the pattern)

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued and her legs feared greatly for how they would stay warm and decent in the long term. Then, she remembered that someone had just posted a picture of their trouser muslin on the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook and had received helpful sounding advice. She checked the post, it might even be of the same pattern. She dug out the pattern and amazingly her long lost UFO was also a Colette Juniper.

So she determined to tackle the unfinished muslin. A quick measure of her hips (Colette’s stated key measurement for trousers) put her in a size 18, the same as the muslin, so no need to start again. Next she looked in the booklet and determined that previously she’d got to the end of p 16 in the booklet. To try the muslin on with zip but no waistband she only had to get through 4 1/2 pages to half way down p 21 and she got to skip the topstitching, how hard could that be? She pored some wine and gave it a go.

Embarrassingly, tacking (basting) in the zip as took her a mere 5 minutes, not even long enough for Great British Sewing Bee to finish downloading. She couldn’t believe the muslin had sat in the pile for over a year waiting for what proved to be such a quick job The side seams whizzed together quickly, although perplexingly the back pieces were 2 inches longer than the fronts on the outside seam but yet they matched perfectly on the inside seam. However her first ever muslin was try-on-able she was ready to assess the fit.

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Her first thoughts were “wow, these are wide”* “and they’re long”** (the woman is 5’8″and they were easily 4-6 inches long (depending on which seam you looked at)). Fit wise they seemed to fit ok in the hip but even with her inexperience at trouser making she could see the crotch curve needed more room and also that they were dipping low at the front (making her think she needed to look at a “who ate all the pies” adjustment).

More technical feedback came from her Fairy Godmother and fellow Stashbusting Sewalong Juniper maker about the work needed on the front crotch. “See from the front how it’s tight, pulling down and wanting to camel toe? And then from the side the leg seam is straight, but at the hip and waist it pulls forward which creates that chevron wrinkle on the back pointing to your bottom. I think if you add to the front crotch length (not add height at the belly, but make that U that goes from front to back more l__l wide that will stop it from pulling fabric from the back toward the front, and allow the front belly height that is already there to lay in the right spot and come up higher. Does that make sense? I had to do the same thing on mine and it made a big difference.”

The woman looked at techincal blog posts about trouser adjustments, got a little intimidated and decided to try and fudge it by unpicking the top u of the inside leg seam and restitching it with less seam allowance (as the pattern has 5/8″ seam allowance so there’s room to play a bit). She also took a wedge out of the centre back and added the waistband to see how that worked.

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked).  Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked in purple pen). Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

She was impressed how much difference such a small alteration made, but was steeling herself to start over again with a Second Muslin when her Fairy Godmother stepped in again with yet more useful advice, to add a wedge shaped piece to the front pieces to extend the crotch seam outwards, tapering down into the inside seam. And the best bit of all, she suggested unpicking the seams a little and zig zagging a wedge shaped extension piece on rather than making the whole things again. The woman was amazed at the simplicity idea and was starting to think this whole Muslining Thing might not be as tedious as she first feared.

2 wedges added to the fronts to extend the crotch length and resulting improved fit

2 wedges of scrap fabric added to the fronts to extend the crotch length (top right) and resulting improved fit

Adding a small wedge to each front piece made a huge difference to the fit (although, in hindsight, she could’ve chosen her scraps of fabric more carefully and not have alarmed her husband quite so much, as when he saw the altered muslin he was worried she was hemorrhaging) and she transferred this alteration and the centre back one to her pattern, shortened the leg length by 2″ and decided to start on the real thing.

the next crisis

the next crisis

However, she did not get far before meeting another problem. The Wicked Witch of Geometry cast a spell ensuring her pieces would not fit on the fabric, no matter how hard she tried. Her Fairy Godmother tried to help her by uploading sketches onto Facebook, but it was no use, the Geometry was too strong for her magic.

Until the woman remembered that shortening the pattern pieces by 2″ was a conservative estimate, so as they were easily 4-6″ too long, she shortened them by another 2 inches and by having some selvage in her seam allowance she JUST squeezed them on. Hooray.

Finally she could start sewing. But it was not long until she got herself into a right mess. She had tried to cut the upper fronts so the stripes matches but hadn’t got that quite right, or maybe it was because she decided to French seam her pocket linings, but before she knew it her pockets were a hot mess of mismatched pattern pieces and gappiness.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

She knew she should walk away and do something else, but she wanted to sew more of her trousers, so instead she distracted herself by making funky patch pockets for the back and binding the seam allowances in a nod to the meticulous finishes her Fairy Godmother was using on her Junipers.

The next day, with a little help from her mum, she unpicked the pocket linings, cut them a little better so they were approximately the same shape as the pattern pieces (something had clearly gone awry when cutting out pattern pieces straight from an old blouse), resewed them on the right sides and just about bodged everything to fit together.

She steamed ahead and finished the zip and then probably far too late she tackled the waistband, which she probably didn’t cut the best possible way and she also shortened the wrong piece which played havoc with her overlap at the front. The belt loops that she made like the coletterie tutorial came out well, but her placement was a little strange, due in part to covering up the fact that her waistband side seam didn’t meet the trouser side seam. However, before long she had some almost finished, wearable trousers, which she proceeded to wear for 3 days straight, even though the stitching wasn’t finished on one back pocket (due to a neadle breaking at 1.40 am which she took as a Sign To Stop), the inner waistband wasn’t caught and sewn down all along it’s lenth, there was a belt loop flapping about that she’d forgotten to sew down and they were held together by a safety pin instead of a button.

However, she did manage to make herself fix these last little things after their first wash before she started wearing them again. It only remained to get some photo’s on a non-rainy day. However, as her No 1 photographer was feeling too sore to leave the house, she had to rope in some less experienced help….

Hmm, somethings not right

Hmm, somethings not right

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

help, the walls are closing in

help, the walls are closing in now

Oh no, now I'm the wrong way around

Oh no, now I’m the wrong way around

Ah, that's better

Nope, the perspectives all wrong

 Nope, wrong perspective

Ah, that’s better

And that everyone, is the story of how the Woman found her Fairy Godmother through the Online Sewing Community and despite her lack of experience, apprehension and difficulties with classes locally, she managed to make herself a pair of lovely trousers, and it shall not be her last.

pocket detail

pocket detail

What’s that you say, would she make this pattern again? After all that trouble getting them to fit so well, you bet she will.

peep inside

peep inside

And how about you, have you ever been helped by a Sewing Fairy Godmother?


*the packet describes the trousers as moderately wide, I’d hate to see their idea of really wide)
**the instructions say they’re cut long to give different length finishing options, but unless you’re 6 foot plus and/or planning to wear them with some serious heels, you may well find them long.

24 thoughts on “The tale of the long awaited trousers

  1. Well done! Trousers….. scarey business. I love the stripes and the trousers and that you got them done and found a fairy godmother. Win – win- win…..

  2. Hello back at ya! Great story, great sewing. Glad you conquered the fear of saying hello to your readers. I’ve definitely found a sewing fairy godmother. They are important!

  3. They look great! I love the stripes and the little umbrellas on the pocket lining!

  4. Loved your story – really made me chuckle! And totally love your trousers too!

  5. I do believe you and I are kindred sewing spirits. 1 finish for every 4 starts?… You’ll see me with my meekly raised hand. Your trousers are fantastic, and now I’ll be totally lame if I don’t finish mine. Well done!

  6. Great job and fun story! Trousers that fit are a huge blessing!

    • I have huge hopes for a lot of fitting trousers in my life now, thanks Em. The next pair of Junipers are cut (race you Crystal?) but after that I think I need to try another pattern as they are a very distinctive style with the wide wide leg.

      • You are going to have a closet full of well fitting pants and I’m going to still be staring at mine sans waistband for lack of deciding how to stabilize the inside! How were they after an all-day wearing? Did they stay put at your waist, or did you have to hike them up? That’s my biggest pants problem…

      • Somewhere recently I came across someone who never uses fusible interfacing (being me, I forget who, somewhere in internet land), but rather always uses plain fabric interfacing. So I decided to try it and cut a piece out of the leg of my muslin to use as interfacing and basted it to my lining. It works fine. I think the waistband has relaxed a little through wear but I always wear, or maybe it’s just that I made them when I was premenstrual, however as I always wear trousers with a belt it hasn’t affected me. You can do it Crystal, a finished pair of trousers fit much better than a pile of sewing, even if not perfect 😉

  7. Love this post! Great work! 🙂

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  9. Super pants! They look great on you. And your story was very entertaining. I love the detail of the back pockets. Good luck on your nex part.

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