Monday, April 2, 2012


Warning: very long and pic-heavy post!

To wrap up my month of pants fitting, I can finally show you my last two finished garments.

First, a pair of jeans.
This is the Dana Buchman orange-striped denim that I got from Fabric Mart a few months ago.

I drew my jeans pattern using the only jeans I have that fit me.They’re by Randy Kemper, a brand I’ve only found once, and it was at the Phoenix Loehman’s, which has since closed (we were sad!).

I traced the jeans directly onto muslin because I was very tired of making multiple copies of patterns by then.I sewed the muslin together, penned a few adjustments directly onto it, and pulled it apart to use as the pattern.

I referred to the instructions from this pattern to make sure I constructed things in the correct sequence. Note that the pattern says “5-hour jeans.” HA! I don’t think so.

The hardest part was the front zipper and fly, since this was the first time I’d ever sewn one. I think this is called a mock fly – the fly extension and fly facing are cut in one with the pant front pieces. It wasn’t until I had the entire thing sewn together that I realized the back/inside half of the zipper was not enclosed in the fly, but sewn on top of it. Silly! Fortunately that part is well-covered by the overlap.

I topstitched everything, and even decided to include back pockets. I omitted the front coin pocket and the belt loops. I can’t remember the last time I wore a belt with jeans!

[It is so weird to see that big tummy. Looks like I could carry a baby kangaroo!] This whole project took me a long time, but I ended up with another pair of jeans that fit just about as well as they can.

Next, the long-sought-after sailor pants.I’ve been obsessed with the idea since I saw this in Dior’s Spring line last year. Source

I have this pair of RTW linen trousers that close with a button on the front waistband. I don’t much like the fit: the legs are too short, the waistband hits too low, and they are unlined so they wrinkle within ten seconds of putting them on. But with the shape of the pockets, I figured I could convert this to a sailor front.

I first traced all the parts of the existing pants onto my pattern “paper” (actually stiff interfacing), then raised the front, back, and pockets, reshaped and extended the waistband.

I made a few more adjustments on the muslin, took a deep breath, and pulled out the dark royal blue twill that’s been waiting almost a year for this project. And I got a little upset. I only had 1.5 yards of the stuff, which is usually enough for my pants patterns. Sadly, even with the 54” width, the pattern pieces were too wide to place them side by side. They would have had to go end to end, and I would need at least 2.5 yards. I dug through my massive bins of bottom weight fabrics and pulled out another blue twill – this one a bit brighter, but still an acceptable color. But no! Stupid thing was only 2 yards! And 45” wide!
Finally I had to use denim, because I had 3 yards of it. This is not at all what I had in mind, colorwise, but at least it’s somewhat nautical and the right weight.
The left waistband extends across center front, and is overlapped by the right front waistband to make sure everything stays closed. The buttons are decorative along the pocket edges and functional along the waistband.

In my early plans for the design, I assumed that 12 buttons would be enough: 4 on each side and 4 along the top. When I got the front stitched together, I tried many different configurations, but just couldn’t get the waistband to look right with fewer than 5 buttons. So, I had to search for…

(suspenseful music plays)…

The Thirteenth Button!
Of course I had only purchased twelve of the brass star buttons, and there was no way I was going to drive to the fabric store for a single button. So I searched through my thousands of buttons to find one of a similar color and size. Can you see the odd one? I think it is pretty close, and it doesn’t look too out of place. When I finally have a reason to go to that particular store again, I’ll pick up the thirteenth button! (I later learned that the original U.S. Navy sailor pants with the button-front flap had exactly thirteen buttons! A funny coincidence.)

End result: perfect sailor pants. I haven’t hemmed them yet since I can’t decide whether I want to wear them with tall wedge heels or flat sandals.

That’s it for pants and trousers, for the time being. What will be next on the sewing agenda?


  1. I love the sailor pants! They are just perfect in every way.
    Your jeans are great also, and the creative way that you drafted them is brilliant. This is too late to be helpful, but do you ever go on the Craftsy site? Kenneth King has a class about drafting a jeans pattern from a favorite pair.

  2. Hi Anita, thank you!
    I did see Kenneth King's class out there, and was intrigued. I would definitely have considered it if my quick and sloppy drafting style had not worked out. I have the feeling that his class is very detailed and has lots of designer touches, since it takes ten lessons (not to mention the $80!).

  3. Trouserama I say!

    Wow what a lot of hard work. Great results.

    What WILL be next? Can't wait to see.

  4. Your pants are really perfect, are the finishes that I would like to mine. I love them. Congratulations

  5. I love the sailor trousers too...gorgeous!

  6. I love both pants!! How did you copy your favorite jeans?

  7. Hi Beverly, thank you!
    It was very much a trial and error process. I turned the jeans inside out to expose all the edges of the pieces, and then placed the jeans on top of the muslin.
    The larger front and back pieces I traced directly by simply drawing around them. For the smaller pieces I approximated the shape, cut it out, and then I could compare it more closely to the jeans part (this was mainly the pocket pieces, which are difficult to trace).
    I made the rest of the "pattern" adjustments - widen the back yoke, lower the front pocket, etc - once I had the muslin sewn together and fitted on myself.