(Alternate headline: "Sewing Pants: Why the Frak Not?"
Readers, I feel like the powers of the sewing universe are sending me a message: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FIT PANTS.
The evidence? I recently came across blog posts by not one, but TWO amazing seamstresses who can sew anything from boned evening dresses to tailored jackets but who claim to hate making pants, or at the very least, find fitting pants weird. And when I picked up a book that ostensibly should HELP me sew pants, David Page Coffin's Making Trousers... I found myself advised that the only real way to get a properly fitting pants pattern is to pay a wise expert master tailor to draft one for me. In other words: MIKHAELA, DO NOT SEW PANTS THEY WILL MAKE YOU CRY.
I'm going to ignore that message. Because now that I've finished two super-easy toddler dresses that didn't require one whit of adjustment... I'm ready to make myself miserable with endless rounds of fitting and muslining again.
And what could be more painful than fitting pants? I hear pants alterations can make even the most advanced seamstresses/seamsters weep and/or fume. But I'm hoping that with careful planning and prep work--and a little pattern selection help from you all--I can turn out a pair of trousers pleasing to the eye and comfortable to the tush.
Please don't laugh. I find this delusion comforting.
Sewing Pants: A Retrospective in One Attempt
I remember well the first (and only) pair of pants I ever made. It was 1999, and I was 19. I picked up some "easy-to-sew" pull-on pants pattern at Jo-ann's, along with some checked poly-cotton mystery fabric. I couldn't believe how easy they were to sew--a few hours later, I was pulling them on, pockets and all. And I couldn't believe how comfortable they were.
I also couldn't believe how ridiculous they looked. The crotch was halfway to my knees, and the bunched up poofy fabric billowing out from the elastic waist was far from flattering.
I've been running from pants sewing ever since. I didn't make (and barely owned) a single pair while pregnant.
Why Pants--and Why Now:
But my former identity as a skirt girl has taken a hit. Nine months ago I made a very happy career change to the non-profit world, and my new office is so casual that most people wear jeans four days out of five.
As do I. Except there's no such thing as a pair of ready-to-wear denim trousers that fit me, so I'm always tugging/cursing at the few semi-acceptable pairs I own. Any pants that fit my waist sag and bag emphatically below the rear and they're never high-waisted enough (I despise a low rise.)
So how much worse could me-made pants be? (I'm serious!) If I could wind up with "failed" trousers like Liza Jane's... I'd be more than happy.
Going for Corduroy
For fabric, I don't have much in the stash with enough yardage. I could go with some proper trousery drapey pin-striped gray wool suiting, but I'm feeling some dark blue corduroy I picked up in high school:
BUT--HELP--WHICH PANTS PATTERN?!
So now that I'm in a mental pants-making space... WHICH PANTS? I'm strictly a trouser girl--I like semi-fitted hips and waist, and a wide leg. The kind of pants that are sometimes called slacks, and which Casey seems to sew a lot of beautiful versions of. Slim or skinny pants are out of the question.
I cut this been-in-my-stash-since-college Vogue Elements 9745 pattern out last night in a 16 (though might cut it down to 14 after flat measuring it, to prevent excess bagginess):
No reviews on Pattern Review, but lsaspacey tells me she made them before and they turned out great.
Still, I keep reading everywhere that somehow American patterns have bad crotch curves, whatever that means, and that somehow, European crotches are just superior. So alternatively, I could trace Burda Style magazine 2-2010 102B:
But are American crotches REALLY that crazy? Can't they be altered to fit like anything else? What am I missing here? I really like the style and shape of the Vogue pattern better. If I can get it to fit, it could make a great basic Mikhaela pants pattern for tweaking and playing with.
The Pants Planning Arsenal.
I'm not going into this endeavor randomly. In typical Mikhaela fashion, I own far more books dedicated to the making of pants than I do pairs of me-made pants--three more, to be precise. I've armed myself with:
- The Sewing Companion Library's The Easy Guide to Sewing Pants. I think I own every book in this series (on jackets, tops, linings, you name it)... this one is by far the longest, and is full of great advice and fitting tips.
- Palmer/Pletsch's Pants for Real People. Also full of wonderful fitting information, but I'll be making a muslin, thank you very much--I'm allergic to tissue fitting.
- The above-mentioned David Page Coffin's Making Trousers. Got this a while ago and reread it at lunch yesterday. It's full of wonderful tips about making beautifully constructed trousers... but it's probably the least helpful for my project, as it's all about the subtle details, not fit, style or fabric. In fact, as mentioned above, Coffin suggests that the only way to get properly fitting pants is to pay a master tailor to custom draft them for you from scratch. OK, then. But I do like his advice on using petersham ribbon for the waistbands--love that stuff.
- Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing has lots of good pants tips.
- This pants fitting tip on PatternReview seems pretty handy, I THINK--I'm still confused by the difference between crotch length, width, and depth...
- The Coletterie has pants fitting tips galore, of course.
So that's that. I'm going to do it, and nothing is going to scare me from the attempt. I'm going to measure myself and adjust that pattern tonight after toddler bedtime.
So tell me: do you just love making awesome-fitting pants? Are Burda pants really better?