Thursday, 12 April 2018

Trouser Inspo

It won't have escaped your notice that I've been sewing trousers recently (here and here), and I have just finished another pair of Emerson/Alexandria mash ups which have yet to be posted. I've talked and thought a lot about sewing trousers in the past, but never really managed to actually do the sewing. Suddenly I can't get enough!

I think there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I'm just wearing trousers more. Generally casually, I live in skinny jeans and at work wear more dresses and skirts, but this winter I've definitely been wearing my RTW black skinnies to death. I'm not sure what's prompted this change and I suspect that come summer (IF summer ever cometh) that my skirts my come back out to play, but for now I want to wear trouser.

Secondly, I tried on quite a few RTW trousers and didn't like them. The fit was OK, but not good enough, and I figured I could at least attempt to do better myself.

Thirdly, the more you make trousers, the less scary they seem. Actually trousers are not difficult at all to make. Just hard to fit.

Lastly, there seems to have been an explosion of Indie trouser patterns in the past few years, which makes the whole thing easier still, albeit with some limitations (see below).

What I will say though, is that I am fussy about the shapes and styles that I wear, and none more so than trousers. I can't always put my finger on what I don't like about things, I just know they aren't right for me, and sadly from the sewing point of view, often I can't identify this until I've actually tried them on. Case in point the Alexandria pants and more recently the Calyers, which I muslined and then rejected (same problem with fabric volume as the Alexandria). This quickly becomes an expensive hobby (the Calyer pdf cost £10), so I am trying to come up with some ways to identify whether a pattern is likely to be a winner or not, BEFORE I make the purchase. This still needs some work, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some lovely trouser inspiration with you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's some of the patterns I have my eye on currently, in that "my eyes are bigger than my sewing ability" way we all know.

Wide Legs

I love the cropped wide leg look, and am keen to recreate a pair I tried on in Jigsaw a couple of months ago but didn't buy because they were dry-clean only and itchy wool. This is a selection of patterns I've been considering. I have previously made and do like the True Bias Emerson pants (not pictured), but would like to move away from an elasticated waistband. I think I like the Anna Allen Persephone and RDC Gaston's best, due to the covered fly and the slightly wider leg, but the others, the True Bias Lander Pants and the Papercut Nagoya Pants are strong contenders. I prefer that the Lander has back pockets, but they are easy things to add to a different pattern. I'd like to make a black pair for work (fabric tbc, but maybe a canvas?) and also a pair in denim. I LOVE Novita's version of the Persephones. So gorgeous.

Aside: I mentioned above about elastic waists. I actually never thought I'd write this, but I have nothing against elastic waists per se, however there are a lot of Indie trouser patterns out there with elastic waists, whether full or back only, and I'm wondering why. They are definitely easier to sew, so perhaps easier to tempt trouser-making newbies in (plus since elastic waists go with baggier trousers, less potential fitting to be scared of?), but given it's more than likely that most people will make skirts or dresses before they make the jump to trousers, they will have sewn darts and a zip or 2, making trousers with a side zip not insurmountable. Personally, with well written and illustrated instructions to follow, I don't find a fly that difficult either. Do pattern designers themselves dislike fly front or side/back zip trousers and assume their customers feel the same? Or do they actually want to avoid writing the instructions, which I can imagine are probably difficult to describe for a fly zip, and while there are some very good tutorials out there, you can't really produce a pattern and then direct your customer to someone else's tutorial. Or, actually, is it just that elastic waists are trendier/have become more socially acceptable in recent years? I have no idea, and I have no strong feelings about it. It's just something that I've been thinking about since I've been looking for some patterns without an elastic waist.

Peg Legs and Pleats

Obviously I've made a few peg leg and pleated trousers with some mixed results. I REALLY love teh look of them, but I struggle with the wearing of them. My successes have all been with the pleats of the Emerson, which are pretty shallow and short. This combination doesn't seem to give me the excess at the front crotch and thigh area, which I find problematic. This is why I think the Orangeuse Patterns Bruges Trousers might work for me. I'm not convinced by the side stripe on the legs, but that's optional, and I really like the rest of the pattern. No back pockets again, but I'm sure I could add welt pockets (she said, never having sewn welt pockets in her life). The RDC Claude Trousers interest me, but they look quite different depending on the version you see. I do like the versions that Christine has made here and here. I even dreamed about them (true story)! Finally the Papercut Patterns Guise Pants. I really wish these weren't elasticated at the back, but I suspect the pleats are probably going to be a problem anyway, so it's highly unlikely I'd make these. But they look nice, don't they?

Skinnies and Jeans

Dead easy to wear, there will be room in my wardrobe for skinnies for a while yet. I've been meaning to make the Closet Case Ginger jeans for a while, I have the pattern and one of my RTW pairs has just gone through at the knee, so it's inevitable they wiill happen. If I like them, I might also try the Sashas which are made from the same block. I chucked the Papercut Patterns Starboard jeans on there too as it has some interesting details.


I've been a bit obsessed with the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants for a while. They have an elasticated waist, so I might not actually like them on me, but I love the drafting. No side seam with a capacious scoop shape pocket and a tapered leg. I even like this weird khaki colour. Unfortunately they are RTW, sold in the US and out of my price range. I recently came across the Sew Liberated Arenite Pants on Instagram and while I wouldn't wear this slouchy, relaxed shape, it has a lot in common with the Clyde pants. So much so, that I am considering buying the pattern to hack. I'm not sure how easy it would be to do with no side seams, but if I could reduce the ease enough, it could work. It's not a priority, but it would be an interesting experiment.

So, there you go. That's the round up of what's going on in my head at the moment. I wonder what, if any I will actually make?! :)

Monday, 2 April 2018

Competed: RTW T-Shirt Copy

Doing a rub off of a RTW garment is something I've been meaning to have a go at for a while, but never quite got round to. As I said previously, my recent makes have all been pretty practical, and this is no different. I just need all the long sleeved things right now, preferably to layer on top of each other and wear all at once.

I have a bit of an obsession with Boden's long sleeve Breton tees, and currently own 3. It's the stripes but also the shape I love, particularly the neckline and if Boden did this shape in solid colourways, I'd buy even more, but they don't. No problemo. I can make one.

I kind of used a hybrid of tutorials, mixed with intuition to come up with a method. Using my ironing board as a base, I lay out the top, put paper on top, then used a pin to trace the edges by punching holes in the paper. Using a pencil, I then joined up the pin holes to get the outline, truing up the pattern pieces as I went.

It more or less worked, although in hindsight I'd change a few things. The SA on the original garment, which I stuck with, was pretty small at about 1/2cm. I found this difficult to sew - my machine has a tendency to chew up small seams - so would increase the SA next time. I suspect I should have used the pins to trace the seam line and then add the whatever SA I needed. I also didn't true up the pattern edges as well as I should have, which became apparent when putting the pieces together, but I just trimmed the pieces to fit and it doesn't appear to have caused any problems.

The fit seems a bit snugger than the original, but that might be down to the SA issue, plus possibly the fabric. The original tee is 100% cotton, so it probably stretches out slightly with wear. The fabric I used is a mystery content knit in black neon slubs. I bought it a couple of years ago from The Sweet Mercerie. I suspect it's a cotton/polyester mix, with some elastane.

Construction was straightforward. Originally I was going to just fold the neckline under, but I opted to take inspiration from the original, which has an internally bound neckline. I did this first, then sewed shoulder seams, armscye and lastly the sleeve and side seams in a oner. The original tee has a little bound split side seam at the bottom, but I didn't bother with that.

I'm not sure there is much more to say. I'm really happy with how this worked out and the top is getting plenty of wear (under jumpers). I will tweak the pattern a bit, increase the SA and then will definitely make more. I'll still buy the Boden striped versions, because I like them, but it's always nice to have options!

Have you ever done a RTW "rub off"? I'm keen to find out other people's experiences and to know if you have any tips.
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