Category Archives: Trousers

DIYing the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde pants and jumpsuit

As I’m sure you’ll have heard if you’ve been remotely near Instagram, the much-revered slow fashion brand Elizabeth Suzann are sadly shuttering their business – but more happily made the generous decision to open-source the patterns for many of their garments. The patterns were temporarily made available by some enterprising sewists via Dropbox, but Elizabeth has now announced she intends to release the patterns herself at some point in the future, so they are no longer available until she does that. Edit to add: It was suggested that people who downloaded the patterns make a donation to a movement working to combat white supremacy. I picked StopwatchUK, the campaign for fair and accountable policing.

I’d never bought any ES clothing and while most of the styles veer towards too wafty/boxy for my tastes, I did get swept along in the excitement and tried a couple of the patterns out: namely, both the ‘work pant’ and jumpsuit versions of Clyde, which is largely and rightly famous for its delightfully scoopy pocket situation.

I first made a wearable toile in a horrid polyester, for which I did an Instagram story construction sewalong – there’s lots in my saved highlight about picking sizes and how I went about construction, so I won’t repeat it all here. Then I made a proper pair in this this light and crinkly (alright yes, wrinkly) ‘Flow’ viscose linen from Lamazi Fabrics – in the Cappuccino colour, although as you can see it’s actually significantly darker than the product photos – more of a Mocha imo.

I made my size according to the chart, an 8 in regular length, but my Clydes are fitting rather looser and baggier than the RTW version, probably because this fabric is loosely woven and drapey (my toile fitted more neatly). They veer a tiny bit hippy for my taste as a result, but I’m still wearing them a lot as they’re so comfortable. I have a thicker cream cotton to make one more pair as they sure are good for these stay-home times.

(My top is the discontinued Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank in leftovers from my Claudia dress! Love that I was able to eke something else out of that special fabric.)

I made the Clyde jumpsuit fairly rapidly afterwards, in an indigo enzyme washed linen from Ditto. I didn’t toile and this is the size medium regular.

The fit is generous and it isn’t sitting quite right on the top half where I’m more petite. I fudged removing some excess/gape from the princess seams but next time I’d cut a size or two down and pivot out some of that armsyce/neckline gaping.

I made a long, skinny tie belt as I didn’t think I’d like the shape without, but turns out I’ve been wearing it largely unbelted despite this perhaps being more ‘flattering’. See also: work at home lifestyle.

When I posted this on IG I grumbled a bit about my beef with linen fabric; namely that everyone else seems to love it yet I find it nothing but heavy, creasy and scratchy – even this supposedly enzyme-washed one. Common advice is that it softens up with washing and wear but to be honest I don’t wash my clothes very often – certainly not every wear – and I don’t really have the patience to wait for a fabric to get nice. I’ve been throwing it into the washer whenever I do a coloured load, which has helped a bit and it’s developing that nice worn-in effect along the topstitched seams. The comfort of the silhouette means I’ll tolerate the fabric, but I’m still far from a linen convert.

For two free patterns resulting in highly home-lifestyle-appropriate garments that I’ve worn a ton, I’m very happy with my pair of Clydes. I don’t know if it’s just because I know they’re RTW patterns but they definitely have the feel of well-drafted garments you’d buy in a store. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the official pattern releases to see if I can pick up more fabrication and construction tips.

Isolation-fit: Strathcona & Philippa

I’ve made this entire outfit over the last week: I guess self-isolation was the kick needed to get back into sewing and even my extremely-long-neglected knitting habit. Desperate times…!

The trousers are a second pair of Anna Allen Philippa Pants – first pair here, which I wear an awful lot, so decided to recreate in a different colour of similar fabric – in this case, beautiful Coffee Bean Jumbo Cord from Merchant & Mills.

This fabric has a lot less stretch than my first pair, but I have lost some weight over the last few months, so I cut the same size as before with all my prior adjustments. I had to take in the side seams a little more once constructed to get the close fit I was after. I’m getting similar wrinkles all over the back leg to last time which may mean that a low butt or full back thigh adjustment is needed next time.

Like last time I added a stay into the front and swapped the button fly for a simple zip. I followed Charlie’s recent tutorial for getting a sharp corner on the waistband: I’ve done this so many times now but it’s always good to sense-check your approach with how someone else gets good results, and I like the simple steps she recommends a lot.

The sweater is the famous and much-loved Strathcona by Good Night Day. Fun fact, I used to be an extremely prolific knitter in my early 20s but it really fell by the wayside once I got into sewing – I just don’t have the patience to see a long project through and I’ve eagerly started many sweaters in the interim years only to abandon them partway. However the Strathcona is both super-chunky and very small (thanks to the shrunken fit and 3/4 sleeves) and literally worked up so fast that I didn’t have time to run out of steam once. I had it finished over a week of very casual knitting sessions and it really just worked up in front of my eyes.

I feel like while I still have the basic muscle memory for knitting and can follow instructions with ease, I have lost a lot of finesse with getting good tension and techniques, so the sweater isn’t that amazingly well made. In particular I’m annoyed that the M1 technique I used (the pattern doesn’t give a specific technique) has left uneven lacy holes down the raglan armsyces which I’d prefer would look solid – I’m wearing a black tee underneath here as it looks pretty weird otherwise. I did a pick-up-and-knit-tbl but I think kfb would have been better.

I made the smaller size of the pattern and I like the fit being a bit snugger than how it looks in the pattern photos and on other people. I tried it on regularly (the joys of top-down knitting) to check the body and sleeve length and ended both with a deeper layer of ribbing than in the pattern (12 rows instead of 4). The yarn is Debbie Bliss Roma, a chunky wool/alpaca blend which I bought from LoveCrafts – I only used 4 balls!

The pants are the first project I’ve completely sewn on my new machine by the way – I was lucky enough to get a Pfaff Ambition 630 for my birthday back in January. It coped more than admirably and I will be writing up some more detailed thoughts on the machine soon if you’re interested. Here’s to more isolation-sewing, and maybe even knitting…

Trend TPC12 with zip fly mod

I have earned a bit of a reputation amongst the folk in my workplace for owning the same garments (and shoes) in multiple colours and wearing essentially the same uniform in different hues every day. Guilty as charged – this is my third pair of this pattern.

I’ve had this pair of ASOS trousers pinned for ages knowing that I wanted to recreate them – I’m physically incapable of buying RTW anymore due to that trifecta of horrible fit, crap fabrics and of course ethical and sustainability reasons. Luckily I found a duplicate of the fabric – this gorgeous creamy seeded denim from Merchant and Mills – and figured I could get a similar silhouette using Trend’s TPC12 utility trouser pattern yet again (previous pairs: 1,2).

I couldn’t however bring myself to sew the pattern’s crazy button fly situation again, and had it in mind that I could quite easily swap in a standard zip fly in its place. This took a bit of redrafting and relying on prior art but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

If you want to have a go, here’s roughly what I did:
– Cut the centre front pieces with the cut-on fly extension on both sides. Interfaced the extension areas and sewed a zip in per my favourite instructions.
– Drafted a simple fly shield piece: this simply needs to be a rectangle the depth of the fly area and twice the width. It’s sewn right sides together around two edges, turned right sides out and the remaining long edge is overlocked. This is then sewn onto the fly underlap side – you could refer to any jeans pattern for similar construction order.
– For the waistband I used the Outer Left piece from the original pattern, cut as two pairs for the new outer and facing (the original pattern has a load of wackily-sized waistband pieces as the finishing around the fly is handled… unusually.). It just needed trimming down a bit at the front to fit. I decided to give the edge a point to reflect the thigh pocket design.

I made another modification too which was a bit of a hotfix for a fitting issue. For some reason, despite cutting the pattern down a size after my last pair because I wanted a neater fit, these turned out ginormous on first baste. I have no idea what happened but I was drowning in them – maybe this more rigid fabric meant they didn’t drape like my previous pairs but still. I took them in through every single seam I could, and also subsumed the back dart into a new seam which runs the entire length of the back leg.

This was a great move because the back thigh/knee area has been annoyingly baggy on both of my previous pairs so this kinda leg-princess-seam meant I could suck some of the excess out under the butt (although these are supposed to be loose/carrot-shaped so I didn’t want to over-fit either).

I think I’ll modify the paper pattern to reflect this change for next time – I’m pretty sure that true to form there’ll still be a next time (in indigo denim?!), especially now I can corner-cut on the fly situation.

Diego-ish

I made a new pair of trousers yesterday, and they sort of represent a Venn diagram of everything I’m into wearing right now: black & ecru, linen, good pockets, a little quirky detailing and a comfy mid-rise faced waistline.

My target was an approximation of these lovely Paloma Wool pants and I used the Republique du Chiffon Diego trouser pattern as a base. I have had this pattern a while but it was seeing Jasika’s amazing printed pair that showed me the potential of making them in a more breezy fabric than the denim they’re photographed in.

I’m really happy with the basic draft of the pattern and just had to make minor tweaks as I went: I cut a straight 42 and took in the back waist darts and lower leg a bit, that’s all. I added 3/4″ to the rise when cutting because I knew I wanted to try adding a waistline facing instead of the contoured waistband in the pattern, much like my beloved M7445 trousers which are just so damn comfortable.

Converting any waistbanded pattern to a faced waistline is really pretty simple – you just need to trace off 2-3″ deep facing pieces from the front and back main pieces, sew to the top raw seam and anchor into place along the vertical seamlines. I always sew twill tape into the top seam to make sure they don’t bag out. I think this pattern is supposed to have a side seam zip but I moved it to the centre-back, and I also extended the pocket bags into the front seam to act like a stay; little tweaks I make based on preferences I’ve picked up along the way.

I also decided to add hem splits inspired by the Paloma Wool pair and my other favourite trousers, the Trend TPC12. To make these I cut a little rectangular facing piece which I sewed a narrow channel up the middle of, then carefully snipped into it, turned the facing to the inside and topstitched. Perhaps a bit of a silly choice given we’re tumbling rapidly towards autumnal weather, but I do like how they turned out.

I got the fabric a while ago as part of a treat-myself haul from Stonemountain & Daughter; it seems to be out of stock but they have the reverse colourway. It’s 100% linen and I gave it a hot pre-wash to get all the shrinkage out. It’s a little loosely woven but hopefully they will hold up to wear and not sag out too much. I had fun (really!) fussy-cutting to get nice pattern placement and mirroring; even the pocket facings match and I like how the back darts create a V shape in the striped sections.

In retrospect I might make the waistline a tiny bit higher if I was to sew these waistbandless again, though next time I might try using the waistband and cute pointed belt loop detail per the pattern. Hopefully I’ll be able to wear these a bit before truly chilly autumn weather kicks in.

Trend TPC12 with hacked-on pocket tutorial

My first pair of Trend TPC12 trousers are one of my most worn and loved garments. They get pulled out several times a week, and unfortunately the rather cheap cotton I used to make them is already starting to pill around the thighs and seamlines. So I invested in a sturdier fabric to make a second pair, but mixed up the colour and design a bit too.

The fabric is rather delicious Kaufman Kobe Twill in Cinnamon which I bought from Sister Mintaka – I had a bit of a spree and bought some tencel twill and Atelier brunette viscose at the same time. It’s a pretty ideal bottom weight and well suited to this pattern: light enough to deal with the bulky seam allowance parts around the fly but enough crispness to hold the vents in place. (Full disclosure – I made another pair before these in a much thicker denim/drill and made an absolute mess of them, despite this being a recommended fabric for the pattern – nope, you can’t do a triple-layered concealed button fly in something that thick!).

Despite being the second/third time sewing this pattern up I still struggled with construction! It’s all totally fine until the fly, which has so many layers and bits to line up and press/stitch the right way that it’s so easy to get really confused, especially with the aforementioned terrible instructions. I really fudged bits of this and had to add strategic hand-stitches here and there to keep things together and looking neat. But from the outside at least they look passable and feel secure.

I am proud however of hacking in some sleek side panel pockets because bizarrely for a pattern which calls itself ‘utility’ pants these have none as designed and I do miss them in my beloved black pair. I forewent the purely ornamental leg flap and instead extended the side panel piece by approx 10″ at hip level. This simply gets concertinaed back on itself to form a pocket, the edges of which get sandwiched into the front and side seams. Easy and effective.

Here’s how that works in detail:
1. On the paper pattern, slice horizontally across the side front panel at mid-hip length and add in a panel twice the depth you want the pocket. Mark notches at the tops and bottoms of the added section.
2. When you come to sew, fold up the pocket extension so notches match again. Press into place, and topstitch along the top of the fold if you like (I didn’t). Baste down at the sides.
3. Sandwich into the centre front and side back seams when they get sewn up.

I’m pleased with these – the colour makes them a bit less of a workhorse than the classic black pair, and this 100% cotton does need an iron every time I wear them. But they do match my Ottowin sandals ever so nicely, and the iPhone-depth pockets are a definite bonus.

Trials of the Trend Trousers

I spent the Easter bank holiday weekend tackling a heck of a project – some Trend Patterns TPC 12 Utility Trousers. It wasn’t easy but we survived and having road-tested these pants in the following weeks I feel they were worth the effort. I’m especially enjoying wearing them twinning as a black crayon with my cat, who wanted to join me for these photos yesterday.

I’m typically loath to spend £20 on a pattern but I couldn’t get Shauni’s gorgeous version out of my head and as an almost permanent member of the trouser-wearing brigade these days (seriously, never wear dresses any more) I’m always looking for ones with interesting design details to add my my collection.

I guess with Trend – one of the more high-fashion-forward indies out there – you are paying for the drafting and design rather than lovely hand-holding guidance (or indeed an inclusive size range – my hip measurement skims the largest size on the chart). I’d already been forewarned by Charlie, who has also just made an excellent pair, that the instructions were on the skimpy side, and got an extra sense from spending an entire evening cutting the many pieces out on a single layer that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park kind of make. To that end I procrastinated on getting started – but when I did, while there were painful bits here and there, I did have finished trousers after two half-day sewing sessions.

Fit-wise things were quite straightforward. I cut a 14 based on my hip measurement and it was easy enough to bring in the waist at the centre back and side seams to fit my smaller measurement there. There’s a nice curvy waistband so no gaping and the length is great. The only thing I altered as I went was to lop two inches off the rise as I didn’t want that super-high/super-long-crotch look. I did this straight from the waistline but I’ll alter the pattern to take it off lower down (and maybe add back half an inch) for next time. I could possibly also size down generally but I do like how comfortable these are.

The rest of the pattern however…. there were certainly parts that were cool and interesting to sew – like the origami-folded vents and an unusual but smart and intuitive fly/waistband construction – I feel like some improvements would make all the difference to the overall usability and enjoyment of this pattern, such as:

– The order of some of the steps made things harder than they needed to be at times. For example, you are instructed to close the outseam before finishing the leg topstitching and vent construction. That makes it harder to manoeuvre under the machine to reach the vents as it’s a little leg-shaped tube. There’s no reason not to sew the side seams after the vents are in which would make access much easier.
– The pattern pieces aren’t numbered and many have really similar names, which makes it hard to know which one to pick up and use at each point. Or indeed to accidentally sew (+ trim + understitch) the ‘front facing’ onto the pants instead of the ‘front fly facing’ #askmehowiknow. Similarly, notches and marks which are referenced in the instructions like the vent stop point are not labelled on the pattern either.
– The instructions have photographs for some steps, but they’re on a cream garment with white stitching so you can’t really tell what’s going on. Sometimes what’s caught in the shot doesn’t really help either e.g. if the fly one was more zoomed out I might have seen I had the wrong piece but it was a fairly useless close-up of the bottom end.
– The written instructions are needlessly confusing and need a proofread. Why write ‘attach’ ‘mount’ ‘close’ etc when you just mean ‘sew’?
– Some finishing-off type steps are not covered so a bit of judicious gap-filling is needed. Like anchoring the end of the fly and the unsecured edges of the waistband facing.

The Fly of Pain

And here are a few extra tips which if you make the pattern you might want to consider too:
– It’s generally not necessary to pre-overlock the raw edges as instructed. I did it as I went which I much prefer; much less tedious.
– I would recommend pressing in creases for the hem and vents while they’re still flat as you will lose your notches after overlocking the raw edges.
– I would certainly toile or wearable-toile to get the fit and construction down before cutting into good fabric. I used a fairly cheap cotton-linen from Abakhan and it got a bit battered from unpicking in places, though I am glad these are definitely wearable.

For all my gripes about the instructions, I did mostly enjoy this project and I really like the finished pants! They feel cool yet comfy and super wearable – they’re gone into regular rotation since Easter even though the cotton-linen I used creases like a mf so needs constant ironing. I especially love those leg vents, which I’ve tried to show in motion above. I think a white denim pair would be pretty cool and I’m sure it will all go easier the second time around.