So there I was, committed to making a pair of trousers, with no clue what I was doing and an over-riding knowledge that, other than gym trousers (which have so much stretch that “fit” doesn’t really apply), I have never really had a pair of trousers that fit properly in my entire life. No pressure.
It’s fair to say that I’ve always been well endowed in the posterior area. This is no secret. It was true even as a student when I was a skinny size 8 and weighed 8 stone. (A friend at the time even took photos of me with a group of friends from behind to prove that, despite my skinniness, their bums were smaller. Great for the ego, that one.) But pre-children, I had a waist that hadn’t changed size since age 9. Clearly no longer the case 2 kids in! In general, RTW trousers have that lovely space at the back. Cue a love of belts and longer length tops!
But one of the main reasons I sew is to challenge myself and learn new things. So in I dived!
I started with the pattern size chart (as you do!)
At first glance, I look to be about a size 14. Fine, this isn’t unexpected, I usually buy either a 12 or 14 depending on the store (UK sizes BTW). But then I read on and discovered that the waist measurement isn’t your natural waist but 2″ below.
I’m now a size 20.
I’ve always had a small waist and big bum so how on earth have I ended up with a waist measurement driving a huge trouser size?
What’s a novice sewist to do in these circumstances? Off to Instagram I went! And as ever, the lovely sewing community didn’t let me down. Lots of helpful comments later, particularly from the lovely Clarinda Kaleidoscope (thank you!) and I went off to trace the size 14.
I then decided to get clever and used the tutorial from the latest Great British Sewing Bee book to adjust the crotch length on the paper pattern. The problem there was that it seemed to be rather a large adjustment!
I followed the suggestion made to split the adjustment between more than one location and toddled off to make a muslin.
(I’m currently being very green and making muslins out of a bag full of Dad’s old shirts!)
To say it was snug was to understate things – husband was rather horrified when I suggested cutting out the nice fabric and just tweaking the seam allowances a little.
I admit to getting disheartened at this point and instead of continuing, went off and made a Tilly and the Buttons Fifi. Which, because I was sewing in a grump, also initially went wrong but finally worked!
Palate cleanser done, I dived back in, traced out the 16, adjusted again and dived into my fashion fabric without making another muslin.
There may be a lesson to be learned there….
Having cut out and zigzagged the edges of all the pattern pieces as per the instructions (I followed the Sew Along by the way, which did differ in some places from the pattern), getting the trousers to the point of trying on to get the fit right was a lovely, easy sew.
Then I tried them on.
As my husband pointed out, the cat could happily have fitted down the back of there! (why that analogy sprang to his mind, I’m not too sure…..)
Many pinning sessions later (serious bravery involved here – allowing husband anywhere near my rear with a hand full of pins he has no clue how to use was not a comfortable experience!) I ended up removing a wedge over 6″ wide, slimming down the side seams and leveling off the waistband which had ended up halfway up my back! So much for my pattern adjustments then…
By this point, I was a day way from my daughter’s 5th birthday party with a whole outfit planned around wearing the trousers. A little sewing-til-midnight session later and I finished them!
Still with me? Not lost you in all the details? Here’s the finished article!
Yep, I finished them on time and I wore them to my daughter’s party. I even got several compliments from other mums who didn’t know I sew – serious bonus!
So the question is, would I make them again?
Yes, I think I would, but I would change several things.
Firstly, despite hubby’s opinions, I would go back to the size 14 pattern and work up from there. This pair, particularly when they’ve been on for a little while, are still a little big despite the yards of fabric I threw away.
Secondly, unless it were for another summery pair (let’s face it, not going to be wearing this fabric in December, am I?), I would lengthen them. Even with the smallest hem known to man, they hit well above the ankle. I think this is just a feature of the style, but for a winter trouser, I absolutely hate the feeling of the hem flapping around the ankle.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I won’t be tackling them again until after I’ve been on the course I booked this week – Beginners pattern making: Made to measure trouser pattern at Ministry of Craft, Manchester. Yes, I’ve made a pair of trousers but they fit by the seat of my pants (sorry!) and I’m still not sure what I should have done to improve the fit. I need to learn!
All in all, I’m chuffed with myself – I made my first pair of trousers, I met the pledge I made for the Made Up Initiative, I donated some cash to charity instead of buying more fabric and I got some compliments on the finished article. What more could you ask for?
How about you? Have you made trousers before? Any hints for me? And has anyone been to any courses at Ministry of Craft? Would love to hear about your experiences!