Impulse Trousers (aka Unexpected Liana’s)


Ages ago I bought 2m of this lovely “gordian knot of tangled yarn in black on a grey melange background” jersey for myself with no particular plan in mind. It would make a great lady skater or a monata, but I’m not really a dress person.  I contemplated a maxi skirt or a full (circle?) skirt, but I’m not really a skirt person either. I kept thinking about making it into trousers, but I couldn’t find the right knit pattern. They were all to tight and jegging-y, or too loose and haremey, or too wide and palazo-ey, or too frumpy, or just plain wierd.


And then I read about some most excellent looking Ponte Pants (not to be confused with Pont Y Pants, North Wales, nor indeed with Pontipines), or more preciesly, Pleather and Ponte pants. I remember that they looked fab and someone called Andrea had made them  with the Ginger jeans pattern (for stretch demin) that she already had in a beefy ponte and some plether but I cannot find the post now at all, so frustrating, I thought I had the link saved, sorry. Anyway they gave me enough confidence to  bite the bullet and try using my Liana stretch jeans pattern with my precious fabric. After all, I reasoned, I could always cut them down into leggings if it didn’t work, or wear them as pyjama bottoms. (A sensible person would make a toile before cutting into their precious fabric obviously, but you need a fabric with a similar hand, especially for a knit as they can handle so differently. However, my local fabric shops don’t have knit anywhere near as nice as this, so I’d have to buy more expensive knit fabric online to practise with, which seems a bit pointless).


Using the Liana pattern was a bit of a (semi) educated guess, as it calls for 25% stretch denim, so I thought I might get away with jersey without sizing down.  This is what I did, in case you’re interested.  I hesitate to call it a “tutorial” as that might imply I knew what I was doing (I didn’t, I was winging it).


In order to convert my pattern to jersey I taped the pocket facing piece behind the pocket cut out to create a pocketless pattern piece and I also folded over the fly, then I cut them out. I considered converting the back to one piece, rather than a yoke and a back piece, but I wasn’t sure how didn’t think it would be worth the effort, so I cut them out as they were.

I still wanted pockets in my trousers, because pockets, I just hadn’t thought that “proper” jeans style pockets would work in the jersey. So I took inspiration from the opening of the Domi short pattern, but tried to make them a bit more practical (as the round pocket option on the Domi’s is very shallow, as described in the pattern notes). To do this, I first traced the edge of my pattern piece and drew in the seam lines. Then I worked out where I wanted my pocket opening to start and drew round a handily sized lid to make a semi circle. I also marked another semicircle, half an inch wider, to show where the ribbing would end. I decided to have my pocket extend to the waistband and side seam, for added support and stability, and drew in the pocket line by eye. Then I cut this out and used it as a pattern piece to cut out two pockets. Next I marked a third (pink) semicircle on my pattern piece, 1cm smaller than the outer one, so that I knew where the seam line would be (yes, I want 1/2″ ribbing and I’m using 1cm seam allowance, that’s how messed up versatile I am). I cut along this pink line and then used the pattern piece as a guide for cutting out the indents on my fronts (lining the piece up with the top and sides, natch).

The “ribbing” was some black jersey. I cut a width approx 75% the circumferential of my semi circle, and the height was twice the finished ribbing width plus the seam allowance (so 1″ plus 2cm then!). This was pressed in half, then I matched the midpoint of the long raw edges to the centre of the semicircle (right side), matched the end points to the edges of the semi circle, stretched it o fit, pinned, sewed, pressed, turned it, pressed again, “coverstitched” my seam allowance down (because I thought that on the pocket the raw edges might show and also I was worried that the ribbing might fray). Next I lined up my pocket piece with my front and basted along the top and side in the seam allowance. Finally I “coverstitched” (a zig zag would do as well) the curve edge in place, from the back, so I could see what I was doing. And voila, a pocket. (And a pretty fine looking one if I do say so myself).


After that it was pretty plain sailing, sew the pieces together, starting with attaching the yokes. (I did the centre front and back seams next and then the inside leg, so I could “coverstitch” them all for extra durability and left the side seams for last, but any order you like works, even the one that always seems needlessley complicated to me where you do the centre seams last and have to put one leg inside the other).


I added a yoga style waistband as described in this tutorial (except I didn’t subtract only 1 1/2″ from my waistline for the length, as it was clear that my super stretchy rib would’ve been too big then. It was a tubular peice of ribbing  which I thought was the perfect size for my waist, so I used it as it was, ha. Then it turned out it was too big, so I went back later and inserted some elastic at the back).


Then it just remained to hem them. [and get some decent photo’s, but as mentioned previously my photographer seems to be on a work to rule so dodgy selfies it is).

So, in conclusion, sometimes it’s good to do something on impulse….

(but maybe not stealing flowers and propositioning strangers with them eh)

(I feel I have to add this to balance out the creepyness of the ad, just incase anyone decides to give someone tea on impulse, plus its a great video in its own right).

Soft Cell

Until recently, if someone said “Soft Cell” to me I would mentally start singing Tainted Love.  ( A few weeks ago I found out (to my shame), that theirs wasn’t the orignal version of this song, rather that was Gloria Jones back in 1964).


Now I will also think of Soft Shell (technically it’s name but it will forever be Soft Cell to me), a water-repellent fabric with a cosy fleece reverse that “protects against wind, cold and moisture, making it ideal for sports jackets and other clothing”. I’d never heard of it, but I fell in love with these dogs from myfabric thinking that they were fleece backed sweatshirt fabric and was heartbroken when they ran out of stock whilst I dithered. So when they came back in stock, I bought some, even though by then I realised it wasn’t sweatshirt fabric. I figured I could make it work, I mean, check out those sunglasses on that collie!


It feels slightly rubbery to the touch, has that slight swishy sound when the right sides rub together that you get with waterproof trousers and hasn’t really any stretch. The fleece back is fairly thin so the fabric is quite flexible and I think it would be perfect for an autumn/spring jacket (or maybe a dog coat, that would be cute). I wouldn’t say it was the easiest fabric to handle, but it wasn’t a pain either (it helped that I had just made this pattern up, so I had it all down). It doesn’t fray, I did manage to pin it (with long glass headed pins) and they didn’t seem to leave holes, and I sewed it ok with a stretch needle in my machine.  I didn’t dare iron this 100% polyester fabric though, on either side, instead topstitching my seam allowances flat (particularly proud of that on the inseam, serious fabric manipulation was needed to get that through the machine).


Of course, I didn’t make a jacket with it. I made yet more trousers for the Boy, cos it’s getting colder around here, he’s been growing a ton, and his birthday is imminent. With turquoise ribbing to match the reverse and the fleece side inside the pockets for added snugglyness like last time. I’m slightly worried about how this fabric stand up to wear and tear, but there’s only one way to find out….

Frost protection

Climbing beans (such as runners) are not hardy, you may need to protect them from frost, fleece can be used. My beanpole (who both runs and climbs), also does not like being exposed to cold. He does keep growing though, so while last years  extended and eeked out fleece backed starry jogging bottoms still fit (for now) the original pair have been passed on now leaving him with only one pair for the cold months ahead.


I wanted to go up a size, but I didn’t dare adjust the ottobre pattern further (I suspect the crotch curve would need changing), so this time I used my trusty Domi pattern. They are quite scarily big, I was worried I’d miscalculated, but on closer inspection they do look like they might be a similar size to the last pair, with a couple of inches extra growing room, so it seems that it might be my beanpole who is excessively big.


These have been put on one side for his upcoming birthday (we’re getting a daily countdown at the moment), so fingers crossed they fit and the brown and orange colour scheme is  approved (you wouldn’t guess it from here but they look a bit tame compared with last years). I’m hoping the super soft fleecey back  will win him over…

Just About Junipers

A few weeks and half a lifetime ago, it was a bit of a heatwave here and we were about to go on holiday. I decided I needed some new linen trousers, so I went to my local shop and dithered over some pin striped charcoal linen (nice too lightweight for trousers really) and some goldy stuff with a great texture (lovely fabric that would go with nothing else in my wardrobe) and then bought and prepped some plain red linen (reminiscent of an old pair of trousers I used to own) and cut out a pair of Junipers, which I thought was the perfect pattern to use as a) wide legs will be nice in heatwave and b) I have already adjusted it to fit me. I then attempted to sew them up the day before we left. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except it was the first day of the kids school holidays and they were under my feet, plus I was trying to sort out and pack too.


Not quite there yet

I used this tutorial to make pockets with french seams, but just like when I’ve made this pattern before my pattern pieces still didn’t line up right and my pockets still want to bag open and flash the insides more than I think they should. I really must double check that my pocket pattern pieces are traced correctly before I make them again. And if they are ok, that I’m inserting them the right way around. I also took full advantage of Collette’s zipper tutorial, not that this zipper is particularly hard to insert.

Needless to say, I didn’t get them finished the day before we left (I kind of jinxed it by making a draft blog post titled Just In Time Junipers, never count your chickens and all that). So I tried to finish them on the day of leaving. Which may have contributed to us leaving 2 hours later than planned, which just possibly was a contributing factor in hitting loads of traffic and having a nightmare journey. But somehow, LSH didn’t even mention divorce (too distracted by morris dancing).

I did manage get them to a state before I left where just the inside waistband, the hems and the ends of the belt loops needed doing, which is the kind of thing some people finish by hand just for kicks, so I packed needle and thread and some good intentions.


In my haste to leave, I only found poppers to take with me, not hook and eyes as the pattern suggests.

Needless to say I didn’t get them finished during the hot weather at a folk festival trailing around after the kids with a swollen ankle. So they came to Yorkshire to camp with Quakers with us too. Where, despite the weather not being so hot any more, I mustered enough shame to finish them before the end of the holiday, so there was at least some point in being so late. Well, I say finish, after catchstitching the waistband and a painfully slow speed and finish down the end of the beltloops, I only tacked the hems in the end. With a backstitch mind. Note to self, really must run them through the machine.



It looks neat, granted, but it took soooooo long

The shots of me wearing them are more atmospheric than clear, but hey. I need to get me some motivation to manage some sewing as I have done exactly zilch since we got back (too busy running around in circles).



Do holidays fill you with the sudden urge to make things in unrealistic timescales?

On the 5th Day of Christmas


…we went for a day trip to a costal zoo and The Man decided that my foxido bag was a perfect colour match for the Arctic Terns.


Tonight I have done a bit more work on pockets.  I’m at the Doubt stage of my project, current doubts are the colour and my back pocket design. Although I’m pretty pleased with the top stitching on my yoke (going to need more of that thread though)


and my choice of pocket lining fabric (cut from the leg of a defunct pair of the Man’s pyjamas).

So I’m creeping slowly forward, but considering I’m about to call it a night, I’m not convinced these will be ready by the end of December.


On the third day of Christmas

I finally finished the trousers that I started on the 23rd…


If they look familiar, it’s because I’ve made them before, last year for a Boy who was desperate for colourful trousers. This year, while colours and patterns are still important to him, it’s all about warmth and cosyness and the staryones have a really soft brushed fleece back and are nice and snuggly. He’s currently refusing to wear jeans (too cold apparently, although he did manage his steam punk trousers to meet up with the Automata recently). The skull trousers that I made him are sweatshirt fabric, but looped back, not fleecy, so don’t tick the cosy box (or so I’m informed). Neither do the two pairs I bought. So he’s basically been living in the star ones when not at school and woe betide me if they’re not washed and dried. I had to break it to him that he couldn’t wear them for 2 weeks solid in the Christmas Holidays, resulting in me having to promise that they would be clean and dry on Christmas day (done, phew).



Still unable to find a suitably acceptable fabric (this stuff was bought last year online from My Fabric and is now gone from their website) I finally worked out that whilst I didn’t have enough leftover from the first time to make a new pair, I could squeeze a pair out if I introduced a below knee seam.




This time they have orange and navy ribbing at the cuffs, rather than red and navy (or they will once I’ve unpicked the one I sewed on back to front and reattached it so you can see it’s orange stripe). The Boy wanted them as similar to the original as possible,  so no-one could tell the difference. Although they’re the graded up size of the skull ones.


Also new this time, I actually followed the instructions for the waistband to the letter and they have a drawstring, which came in my Curvy Sewing Collective Christmas Swap last year. I was a bit wary about the grommets in the knit, but after a few tries on scraps it worked fine with a piece of woven polycotton at the back (as recommended).  The Boy is mightily pleased with this addition and it wasn’t as tricky as I thought.


New/Old Comparison

So, all in all, a sewing win. And a happy Boy. And I have resigned myself to him wearing both pairs of trousers a lot, at least it will make my washing easier.

Have you / would you ever recreate something you’ve already made?


Take one old pair of trousers…

… no longer fitting so well, but also ragged and threadbare at the cuffs, so no one else is likely to want them. The fabric however, a thick herringbone weave, that looks good in places, so get out the scissors…

A little rootling around the stash and some fairly basic sewing later and instead there is one zippered pouch, a makeup bag perhaps, or storage for small items, or useful when packing, who knows. With a large welt pocket on one side that was the back pocket of the trousers, adorned with a skull on the other (I remembered to interface my fabric before applique for once, doesn’t it make a difference!) and a pale yet interestin lining, so that things can be seen inside.

But wait, there’s more…

A shopping bag/tote, with ammonites screen printed on. Hopefully another “manly” bag. The palest grey ammonites are actually just white ink, that’s how it showed up. The black ink doesn’t show well on it’s own, but looks effective over the “white” or the mixed grey.

I was worried that I didn’t have enough fabric for a usefully wide bag, so of course I ended up with a bag a little on the wide side (with a side seam from the trousers preserved running down the middle of each side, just a little off centre). I mitred the bag corners, a current favourite trick that also takes out a little width, then topstitched a pin tuck (?) to make edges of the “sides” like  last time (sorry, no photo’s it would seem).

This bag is unlined and has petersham handles, how decadent (the handles, not the lack of lining, but it’s strong enough).

Both are now in foreign lands, bound with ribbon, filled with gifts, waiting for Christmas day.  Part of my reusable “wrapping paper” crusade I have unleashed on much of my family this Christmas.

So, I seem to be organised for once. But that is so alien of late that instead of feeling relaxed I am more slightly wary, waiting to find out what the gaping hole in my plans is.

Are you a natural airtight planner?