Category Archives: Trousers

True Bias Hudson Pants

Hudson pants

Woo! I’m so pleased for Kelli of True Bias: her first pattern, the Hudson Pants, is now available, and it’s a cracker. I was fortunate to be asked to test for this pattern so I’ve already had time to sew up two pairs – you might have seen my first pair on Instagram right at the tail-end of Me-Made May. Trust me, if you get hold of the pattern you’ll be making multiple pairs of these babies too.

hudsonpantillustrationforblog_zps3dd20a9a

The Hudsons are a snug-fitting, low waisted urban jogger, with trimmed yoke pockets, a topstitched wide elastic waistband finished with drawcord, and deep ankle/calf cuffs. Perfect for work at home or out and about errand kind of days – of which I have a lot.

Hudson pants

My first pair is made from a double-sided ponte knit bought locally. I used the navy side for the main trouser, with some contrast at the hip and cuff using the lighter reverse side (Hudson is MADE for fun colour blocking). I think that ponte is a perfect choice for the Hudson, as the medium amount of two-way stretch makes them super comfortable but not bag out too much.

Hudson pants

Sewing these up is really fun and from cutting to sewing you could definitely make a pair in one session. What makes them intermediate rather than beginner is having to set the cuffs in the round, and the rows of topstitching on the waistband, where keeping the elastic uniformly gathered is key (I didn’t quite nail it on this pair, and there’s a bit of puckering). The instructions are excellent and well diagrammed so a confident beginner could easily tackle them, and they’d make a great introduction to the wonderful world of sewing pants.

Hudson pants
Hudson pants

Sizing wise, my waist measured about 3 sizes smaller than my hips on the chart, but Kelli recommends you go with your hip measurement as the waistband is elasticated anyway. The fit came out pretty good, just a bit tight across the bum so I might size up if I wanted a looser fit. The only thing I noted as a tester is that the ankle cuffs were a bit tight too, but Kelli has adjusted this in the final pattern to add a tiny bit more ease. I can’t imagine the shape would not work on anyone to be honest.

Hudson pants

I loved my first pair so much I made another a week later. My second pair is in a heavy terry-backed flecked jersey from Minerva.

Hudson pants

I cut exactly the same size as before but you can see a slight difference in fit: this knit has less widthwise stretch and hardly any lengthwise stretch. The result is a snugger, almost legging-type fit down the leg and a lower rise. I’m totally ok with this because I think it makes the pants a bit smarter; I could definitely wear them with a nice tee and loafers for work, whereas the first pair are a bit too casual for that.

Hudson pants

I’m already imagining more pairs – I want some calf-length ones for the warmer weather (perhaps even shorts length too) and also want to try them in a lighter weight patterned knit, which I think could create a loose drawstring pant kind of effect. I think it’s a pattern which really fills a gap for comfortable yet not completely slobby leisurewear, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it over and over.

You can buy the PDF download Hudson pant pattern for $10 right here.

I received a free copy of the draft and final pattern as a tester; views are my own.

Burda 7017 Spring trousers

Burda 7017 trousers

This outfit seems to be telling me spring is in the air – or it was when I took the photos last week, it seems to have dipped back into grey today :( I always seem to be drawn towards lighter, brighter colours as the weather gets nicer. I’ve even dip-dyed my hair lighter to celebrate. Alright, ignore the boring grey (non-me-made) tee, but the trousers are my new pair of Burda 7017s, and I really kinda love them.

Burda 7017 trousers

There are only six pieces to deal with in this pattern, and the fitting and style details are minimal but effective. Yoked slanted side pockets, front pleats, back darts, a button and zip fly… all very straightforward. (View B also contains hem cuffs and belt loops, if you’re inclined.) Sewing them up was fun and easy, and I got most of it done in one Sunday afternoon session.

Burda 7017 trousers
Burda 7017 trousers

I needed no fit alterations besides lowering the rise by about 1.5″ – it’s nearly natural waist height which is too much for casual pants and also unflattering with front pleats. They’re still quite high, but any lower and I’d have to muck about making the waist bigger. I had to angle in the back waist a little to prevent gaping: the directions have you sew this seam last so it’s easy to fix, but I don’t understand why any pattern comes with a straight rectangular waistband: surely that will fit no one with any hint of curves? Next time I’ll draft a curved band using the tips here. On the plus side I didn’t have to fiddle with the leg width or length at all, as I usually do; I really like the fit being loose on the thighs and slimmer down to the ankle.

Burda 7017 trousers

The fabric is Premier Prints’ Cameron, bought from fabric.com. I swear I ordered the twill but seem to have ended up with cotton duck instead. Duck is more often used for home decor makes as it’s tough and non-stretch. I think twill would have been more comfortable, but actually these feel fine too. They also feel nice and rigid so I don’t think they’ll stretch out much.

Burda 7017 trousers

The waistband is doubly interfaced and also cut a little smaller than the pants top and eased in, so I hope it’s not going to bag out. I overlocked all the seams for speed, but next time I’ll flat-fell and topstitch for a more durable, jeans-style finish. The fly front is constructed in a different way to usual: the facings are integrated into the front pattern pieces and turned to the inside, then the zip’s stitched to each side in turn, then the fly shield is stitched on. It seemed to make no sense as I was doing it, but I trusted the instructions and it was actually a really quick method and turned out nice and flat. I have no front-fly fear any more!

Burda 7017 trousers

I can’t wait to make these again, addressing my minor fitting issues to get them perfect. They may well become a TNT (tried ‘n true) pattern for me as I can envisage them in so many different fabrics, colours and patterns, the shape is good for me, and they are a really quick sew. I wore them the day I finished them before I’d even put the button on, and again the next day, which is usually the sign of a winner. Have I sold you on Burda 7017 too?!

Simple Sew Classic Trousers

Simple Sew Trousers

New UK-based pattern company Simple Sew offered to send me one of their patterns to review, and I plumped for the Classic Trousers. These are mid-waisted slim-legged trousers with front pleats, back darts, and a concealed zip at the centre back.

Simple Sew

The style lines are very simple: no pockets, fly, yoke, belt loops etc and as a result they’re extremely quick to cut and sew. That seems to be the entire premise of this pattern line, which promises everyday wardrobe basics to suit your style.

Simple Sew Trousers

I confess, I deviated away from the pattern’s simplicity a little bit to make the trousers more wearable for me. I moved the zip from the CB to the side as mid-bum-zips look a bit odd to me. Can we take a moment to appreciate that neato concealed zip? I’ve been practicing *preens*

Simple Sew Trousers

I also couldn’t help adding yoke pockets, which I drafted myself inspired by the single-piece pockets of Simplicity 1610 (which I’ve also just finished sewing and will share soon!)…

Simple Sew Trousers
Simple Sew Trousers
Drafting a yoke pocket

The single piece folds back on itself to create the inner pocket and the yoke all in one, very clever and hardly any extra effort.

Simple Sew Trousers

Anyway deviations aside I really like this pattern. The fit was pretty spot on with no adjustments and came up the same as my RTW clothing size. I was expecting the waistband to be higher based on the fashion sketch but it’s actually below the belly button. If you’re tall, you may need to add a bit of leg length as I’m fairly short and the length was good for me.

Simple Sew Trousers

I’m not sure this pattern would be suitable for complete beginners as I think the formatting of the instructions could do with being a little clearer in places. It took me a bit of searching to find out what interfacing pieces to cut, and I needed some additional internet support to remember how to get the concealed zip in. However, Simple Sew do offer full email support so you could always contact them if you got stuck. And I think they’d be a great first pants project if you’re already a pretty competent sewist as they are very easy to fit – I know that fit issues put a lot of people off sewing pants. To which I say DO IT, sewing pants is so much fun!

Simple Sew Trousers

For once I went for a plain fabric and sewed this pair up in a ‘Panama’ polyester that I grabbed on a Spoolettes trip to Lewisham last weekend. I had to google to see what Panama was but it just means basketweave: it’s light, drapey and crease-free so ideal for woven pants. It was also only £2.90 a metre so these were some mighty thrifty trousers. The fact that these are woven and non-elasticised means they’re a touch smarter than my beloved Burda 07-2011, but have the same ease of wearing.

simplepants

All via Zara

I think the best thing about this pattern is that it’s suitable for loads of types of fabric and would really help to build up some diverse staple pieces that you couldn’t really tell are from the same pattern. I fancy a chambray pair already (with a metal zip at the centre front), perhaps black peachskin and grey flannel. And they’d be a great canvas for my beloved prints – I have some indigo ikat that’d be just dreamy for these.

Thanks again to Simple Sew for sending me this pattern for review. It’s a winner for me! What do you think, are simple patterns sometimes fun to make and wear or do you always like a bit more meaty detail to your garments?

Operation knit-stashbust, and overlocker tips

I’m on a bit of a fabric-busting mission at the moment: matching up all my stashed-away fabrics to appropriate patterns and getting them sewn up. I get a bit antsy when there’s too much stuff accumulating in my house, and my fabric pile(s) are getting slightly out of control. I now have a Google spreadsheet so I know exactly what I have and how I want to use it, and I promise I won’t buy any more until it’s significantly reduced. Apart from that Goldhawk Road visit with the Spoolettes last weekend, ahem.

The main things in my stash are printed jerseys (thanks to a few binges at Rolls & Rems, Girl Charlee and Fabulace), and awkward sub-1m pieces left from other projects. Naturally jersey is easier to think of projects for and is also a large component of what I wear day to day, so I’ve been whizzing my way through this pile. I don’t have all that much to say about them though, so I thought I’d dump them all together here. I also thought I’d jot down a few tips for working with knits/an overlocker, in case anyone find it helpful.

Franken-Anna dress

First, a simple elastic-waist frock in a rayon knit from Fabulace. The skirt part is Simplicity 1800 again, like my favourite feather dress, and the bodice is By Hand’s Anna with minor alterations. In retrospect the large geometric print wasn’t the best choice for Anna as it gets chopped up by the waist pleats and you can’t really see the ‘blossoming bust’ detail, but I really just wanted to see if it worked in a knit.

Franken-Anna dress

I had to take a large dart out of the centre back to compensate for the stretchy fabric. Next time I’d do this before actually cutting the piece out, I had to kind of fudge it afterwards. To be honest, this was one of those ‘it’s 9pm on a school night but I really feel like making something NOW’ kind of projects, so it’s a bit rushed and wonky in places, but I still like it a lot. How nice is the green with the black and white? I need more green makes, I think.

Burda 07/11 pants

Next, another pair of Burda 07/2011’s (see more here and here), made in another rayon jersey from Fabulace. Jazzy prints are apparently my Achille’s heel.

Burda 07/11 pants

This time I made a waistband with encased elastic rather than the folded-over ribbing band the pattern recommends. These are basically a copy of a pair of RTW trousers that I wear all the darn time for work-at-home days, and they’re just about outside-acceptable too. Right?!

Hemlock tee

A Grainline Hemlock using some slubby grey knit from Minerva and a scrap of a darker grey. Lovely pattern, takes like an hour, will sew again and again.

Peplum tee

Here’s a peek at what’s been my little project since the new year: a totally self-drafted peplum tee, which I’m going to make available as a free PDF download very soon. I’ve made several during the process of drafting the pattern and think this plain black one is my favourite, even though it was an earlier version and the bust still isn’t quite right. Watch out next week for the pattern release if you like it.

Overlocker tips

Now, here are some of my top tips for working with jerseys, as I know a few people got overlockers for Christmas so might find these useful.

Cutting

Overlocker tips

I use my pleasingly matchy-matchy weights and rotary cutter to cut. I find using scissors and pins can cause distortion and a ‘hacky’ uneven edge, and you want to be as accurate as possible to make life easier when sewing. I only have a small cutting mat, so I have to move it around under the pieces as I cut.

Setting up

Overlocking tips

Buy the big cones of thread in packs of 3 or 4 depending on how many your machine takes (my machine can take 4 but I usually sew with 3). eBay and Jaycotts are good sources, they can be tricky to find in shops. I’ve only ever needed black, white and a medium grey, which seem to blend into nearly everything I’ve made (telling, huh?!), and they last forever – over a year and counting for mine and still nowhere near finished. Rotate the spools often, because the lower loopers use more thread than the upper needles.

Once your machine’s threaded up, you never need rethread it, even when changing colour. Simply snip the threads at the top, tie on the new colour and knot securely. Snip the loose ends short then run the machine in short bursts to pull the threads through, stopping when they get to a tension dial and manually helping them through. You’ll find the lower loopers feed through first as they use up more thread, so I usually run the machine until they are done then pull through the top needle thread manually and rethread the needle (or both needles, if using four threads). This takes under 90 seconds when you’ve done it a few times. Andrea has done a photo tutorial of basically the same technique I use. I can make a video on my process if anyone would find it helpful?!

Sewing

Overlocking kit

If you’re a bit scared of the overlocker, there’s no harm in basting your seams first with a regular sewing machine. Either stitch close to the edge so the stitches are covered by the overlocking, or further in so you can easily pull them out later.

Always do a quick test run on a scrap of fabric before starting each project. Tension can vary quite a bit between different jersey weights.

Sometimes I remove the knife from my overlocker, trim down the seam allowances if necessary (but leaving an allowance the width of the overlocked stitch, in my case about 5mm), and stitch my seams without using the blade to cut off any excess. This can be handy when going around tight corners so you don’t accidentally slice a bit off, and can also create a more stable seam at shoulders as the fabric bunches a little into the stitches. It also means you can unpick and re-sew if you make a mistake!

Unpicking overlocked seams is quite easy – quicker than regular stitching, I think. Here’s a tutorial.

I use Clover wonder clips instead of pins, as I’m terrified of what would happen if I accidentally ran a pin through my overlocker blade *shudders*

A walking foot is a great investment for sewing with knits on your regular machine. Mine is a cheap unbranded snap-on one and does the job fine.

Overlock tips

To finish an edge where an overlocked end is left loose (as opposed to being covered by another seam), I thread the tail ends onto a large darning needle and weave it back into the overlocked seam, cutting after an inch or so and securing with a drop of Fray Check or a small bar tack.

Hemming

Feather dress

My usual technique is to finish the raw edge with the overlocker, fold up once anywhere from 1/2″ (on a sleeve) to 2″ (on a dress hem), press, and stitch directly over the overlocking using a walking foot and zigzag or twin needle stitch. A double-folded up edge can look bulky on some jerseys and affect the drape. You want to catch the very edge, or even tip over, the finished overlocked edge so your seam won’t flip unattractively to the outside. I also love to do a machine blind hem on jersey dresses as it won’t ever flip outside, looks nearly invisible, and doesn’t affect the hang or drape. Press well after stitching.

Neck and cuff bands

Feather dress

I sometimes use this Megan Nielsen technique, which has you stitch the neckband to the inside (wrong side) of the garment, then press to the outside and topstitch. This has the benefit of giving a bit of stability, but can look a bit poor in lighter or loopy knits as the topstitches will just sink in. Or you can sew a band straight to the right side and press upwards, like this tutorial.

Papercut pleated pants

Papercut pleated pants

Another new sewing challenge surmounted: tailored trousers, with a proper zip fly-front and everything: Papercut Patterns’ pleated pants to be precise. I made them in a slightly tweedy charcoal wool from my shopathon at Mood.

Papercut pleated pants

The pattern is great, although it’s definitely one to toile first to check fit and techniques. Lots of bloggers say the sizes come up very big but I didn’t find that was the case. I graded between the S and M which fitted about right. The construction went pretty smoothly and was a good level of challenge. The pieces all slotted together very nicely and the instructions – in a little fold-it-yourself booklet – are good. I messed up the fly front a couple of times and managed to set the pleats the wrong way, but no major disasters. I’m quite proud that these are labelled for ‘skilled’ sewists and I didn’t struggle much, actually!

Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants

The front didn’t quite want to stay flat so I used two hook and bars instead of the suggested one, and also slipstitched the bottom two inches of the zip opening closed. I decided to add belt loops right at the end, mostly inspired by Jolies Bobines’ fabulous pants using a similar new République du Chiffon pattern. They’re quite functional at keeping them in place, as well as adding a bit of detail to the wide waistband.

Papercut pleated pants

Nice and tidy inside. I slipstitched down the waistband before topstitching for accuracy, and all the raw edges are overlocked.

Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants
Papercut pleated pants

The fit overall is good: I like the mid-rise and slim legs, and the cleverly shaped waistband has no gaping at all. For some reason though, I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the finished garment. I’m just not sure the mannish silhouette with hip pleats is the best shape on me, and I’ve been struggling to think of ways to wear them in an outfit. I usually tend to like a slouchy top half but then the look just gets baggy all over, so I think more fitted tops are the way to go.

trousers

I had a little trawl for styling ideas – I like the patterned knit and asymmetric blouse ideas. Any other thoughts on styling them? We’ll see if I pick them up to wear very often. I poured a lot of love into them so I hope so!

Papercut pleated pants

I’m pretty sure I’ll make these again, but next time I’d pick a solid coloured twill or denim for a more casual look. I have another Burda trouser pattern that I want to try first. The mission to sew perfect pants starts here…