Finally, Trousers That Fit!

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They fit! Hurrah! I can’t tell you how happy this makes me after all that palaver with my last attempt πŸ™‚ The pattern is Simplicity K1699, a second copy of which (after I’d mistakenly cut out a size too small last time), luckily came free with a sewing magazine. This time I cut a size 12.

I struggled to find nice, work-appropriate fabric. There’s generally not an awful lot of choice in the shops near me, most of it coming in heavy, navy or black pinstripes. I spotted this beauty tucked away in a corner of Abakhans in Manchester. It’s a lovely, lightweight kind of taupe (almost grey) wool with a fine, cream stripe. It didn’t come cheap at Β£12 a metre . However after having hastily purchased a pair of ‘make-do’ grey, work trousers from a Marks and Spencers outlet store recently for Β£25, which I’ve only worn once and hate already (I’m always in between ‘standard’ sizes and having gone for the larger option this time, they hang awkwardly off my hips and the fabric is just plain nasty!), this taupe fabric as a result is looking a lot better value for money.

Determined to get a better, internal finish this time I took your advice and overlocked my fabric pieces before sewing. Thanks for the nudge Chris πŸ™‚ Not before however, reluctantly acknowledging that I needed to change colour on my overlocker from my Winter black to a more Spring-like cream. I tried the ‘tie it on’ method, but pulling it through (as my owners’ guide suggested), was so tricky that I ended up just cutting them and starting again. Luckily, it worked first time πŸ™‚ Despite the extra effort, this has made such a difference to the finish. They look so much more professional. Result!

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This pattern was really easy to follow. The only thing I altered was substituting the standard zip for an invisible one, which I much prefer. I used grosgrain ribbon (another tip, thank you) for my waistband. The only bit I found tricky was folding in the ends. There must be a neater way of folding it in on itself around the top of the zip, but I figure no one is ever likely to spot this, so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it…

I never find trousers as flattering on my shape as I do skirts or dresses, but despite this I’m really pleased with these. Making the next size up seems to have resulted in a slightly wider, leg shape than I was expecting however. I don’t hate it, but when I next use this pattern, which I will πŸ™‚ I might well take them in ever so slightly to avoid looking like they’re drowning me.

So finally, I can tick off one of my sewing resolutions for 2015. While I’d hardly say that I’ve ‘mastered’ the art of trousers, I can certainly say that I can now make a fairly decent stab at an appropriate pair for work. Phew! Anyone else slowly ticking off their sewing resolutions?

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Trousers: close but no cigar!

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I was planning on calling this post ‘Trousers: third time lucky’, but it’s not, so I can’t! But I did get frustratingly close, which is something I guess. If you’re new to reading this blog, Simplicity 1699 was the pattern I chose for my first attempt at trousers (and hello!). I cut a size 10, Β (which works well for both skirts and dresses on me) see here, but they ended up far too small. On my second revisiting of this make I carefully narrowed my darts and let the seam out along the crotch, which resulted in me just about managing to get them on, but with a serious danger of splitting them in public!

So last week, unwilling to add them to the charity pile as I’d used a really nice fabric, I cheated, or attempted to, and took them to a local, professional seamstress. She made me try them on and move around in them, but then said that I seemed perfectly capable of finishing them off myself and that I’d be annoyed if I let her! Humph, I begrudgingly acknowledged that she was probably right (but was secretly gutted she didn’t want to do it for me). Not sure if she just didn’t want to interfere with someone else’s sewing, which I do kind of understand. Anyway, she advised me to take out the front darts totally, replacing them with just a small tuck for each at the waist. She also said that if I took out the side seams just a little more, I’d be surprised at the difference it would make. She was right in a way. After revisiting them for the THIRD time, I can now get them on comfortably and feel less concerned about the danger of splitting them open in public, but as you can probably see from the photo above right, there’s still too much pull across the widest part of my hips for them to look ‘right’, darn!

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There’s also a bit of weird puckering along the side seams, which is annoying. At this point, and after so much faffing around with these, quite frankly I’m sick of the sight of them! I still don’t want to chuck them, so for now they’re hanging forlornly on the back of our spare room door. I could hang on to them, in the somewhat optimistic hope of getting back to my ‘Summer-weight’, but having just had a sort out of my jeans drawer and ridding myself of several pairs of such ‘fantasy-weight’ (aka far too small) pairs, this seems pretty daft πŸ˜‰

On the plus side, this was the perfect choice of trouser pattern for work. I’m really pleased with the slim body shape, but looser-shaped leg of these. I also have a replica copy of this pattern (free with a magazine), to cut the next size up with. And lastly, the pattern itself, before I started letting out seams and darts, was actually surprisingly easy. So, all in all, there are a fair few positives to this project, even if the end result turned out to be unwearable. Onwards and upwards…

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So, trousers…

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So, my challenge this year was to master making trousers! Well, I’ve made a start at any rate; the mastering could take a little longer… I selected two patterns that I thought would flatter (and let’s be honest), looked fairly simple: Colette’s Clover and Simplicity’s 1699. I’ve since become unsure of the former, sensing that it might be a little too fitted for my shape (although I guess that depends on the choice of fabric?), so the latter it was for my first attempt.

The hardest part was selecting a fabric I liked. I wanted these to be for work so I needed something pretty smart. Most of the pinstripes in wool (leg-lengthening for all us shorties) just seemed too thick. A couple of you suggested something with a little stretch to alleviate fitting problems. I didn’t quite manage that, but I came close with this thinner, light-weight wool (Leon’s in Chorlton) which is a charcoal grey with a blue grid-like design. I wasn’t sure about the horizontal stripes in it, worried they might exaggerate my hips if it pulled even slightly, but it was the only one I really liked.

And do you know, the making part wasn’t too bad at all? The style is a straight legged style with a side zip closing. I cut a UK size 10, which usually works well for skirts (sometimes smaller for knits). Can you see where this is going already? The main body of the trousers came together really easily, just like a skirt in fact. Sewing the inner side seams (ie the crotch area) was new, but I back stitched to reinforce, as directed, and it looked just fine.

I was even really good and paused overnight, before attempting to insert the zip. New year’s resolutions to slow down and all that πŸ˜‰ By this stage however I could foresee a problem: they were looking mighty small! The zip was a bit trickier to insert than in a skirt, as there wasn’t a lot of room to manoeuvre without catching the other side up in my stitching. I used a centred zip, following my ‘Sew Step by Step’ (Alison Smith) method (that I used here, for my butterfly cushions). This wasn’t as neat, but just about passable. Definitely an area to work on for next time!

The waist area of the trousers was finished with ’twill tape’, but as I had no idea what this was (some form of bias binding?), I simply used a length of grosgrain ribbon I had which matched the colour of the fabric really well. Sadly, as I guessed, they came up pretty small. I can get them on and the shape is surprisingly flattering (phew!) on both my legs and bum, but they’re just not fastening up! Maybe it’s just being too cruel to yourself attempting to fit trousers for the very first time in January? I’ve left them unhemmed for now. I figured I’d try to get them on again in a month or so, when I’m back to my fighting weight after the Christmas feasting. It’s kind of frustrating as the fabric’s lovely and they’re so close to fitting, but despite this I do feel proud that I’ve even attempted them, so there’s that πŸ™‚

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All in all, I’d really recommend this trouser pattern if you’re a first time trouser-maker too. I should imagine it’s a pretty flattering shape on most figures. Annoying as it was that this pattern came free with a sewing magazine after I’d already bought it, now it seems like fate πŸ˜‰ If these still don’t fit when I’ve lost the Christmas bloat, then I can cut the next size up out of my second copy. A silver lining in every cloud and all that…