Category Archives: Trousers

Sewing with Knitted Fabrics: Derwent and Peak

Today I’m the final stop on the blog tour of sewing designer and teacher Wendy Ward‘s latest book, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’. Because I’m an overachiever I’ve made a whole, albeit very simple, outfit from the book, comprising the Derwent trouser and Peak t-shirt patterns.

Wendy’s book is a pretty comprehensive primer on all you need to know to sew with knits. Even if you have some experience I’m sure you’d pick up some new tips or find it handy as a reference volume, or simply make use of the six included patterns which include a tank, tee, a skirt, two pairs of trousers and a cardigan along with numerous ‘hacks’ to make more variations.


The patterns are printed onto sheets at the back of the book. They need to be traced and sometimes pieced together. Colour coding and good clear labels made the process really fast, even for this usual tracing-phobe: like well under half an hour to do these two patterns. I outlined my size in black marker to make it even easier to see what I’m doing.

The Derwent trousers which I sewed up first are a cropped flared trouser designed for ponte type knits, with the waist finished with an elastic facing. I used a wool-mix Ponte Roma which was kindly supplied by Minerva Crafts. It’s a lovely weighty cloth with a firm widthwise stretch and an almost felt-like feel.


I appreciated the detailed finished garment measurements breakdown and the way the key body measurement is given to pick your size from – hip in this case. I found them true to size and the fit great, albeit perhaps a little unflattering on my currently rather inflated tummy. I took two inches off the standard length leg to get this ankle-crop length.


I followed the sewing instruction in the book and had no issues at all. They sewed up crazy fast, being only two pattern pieces and just five seams. I especially like the waistline, faced with wide elastic and folded back on itself for a clean and firm finish. I added a label so I can quickly tell the back! The book has a separate techniques section for things like this which is referenced from the individual pattern instructions where relevant.

I made the Peak tee next, in a pale lilac interlock that’s been in my stash for a while. This is a boxy-cut crew-neck tee which falls to high hip length. Variations include a long sleeve and elasticated waist dress views, for which instructions are given in the book.

In terms of fit I found the back neckline a bit too broad for me; the neckband keeps it snug but I’d make an adjustment before sewing up again. Also the sleeve head is symmetrical which I think is causing a little excess fabric around the front armsyce/upper bust on me. Both quite common fit issues on me since I’m smaller through the back and upper chest, so I can alter the pattern accordingly for next time. Overall I think the proportions are great, and it also sewed up quickly with thorough instructions. I hemmed the sleeves to the outside for a cuffed effect.

Overall I’d definitely recommend this book to those either brand new to sewing knits as a project-based learning book, or those who have some experience and want six cool basic-with-a-twist patterns and technique references. Thanks for having me on the tour and to Minerva for my trouser fabric! You can check out other projects from the book at the other tour stops below:

And if you fancy a copy, MAKEetc.com are offering 25% off the £12,99 cover price with code BLOG25 until 21st April. Not bad for six patterns!

M7445 the second and third

I just made my third pair of McCall 7445 pants, so thought I’d bundle in pair 2 that never got blogged because I love em a lot and it might be interesting to see versions in quite different fabrics. Here’s pair one in needlecord, by the way still much loved and worn.

McCall 7445 is such a great pattern! It’s a Melissa Palmer design and includes extra large seam allowances, a sheet of fitting tips, and a construction that lets you check and tune the fit as you go. Even though I’ve made it three times I still baste and try on as I go because different fabrics can fit differently. I’ve also gained a little weight recently (thanks, Christmas) so perhaps made use of that extra allowance in this pair.

For pair 3 I used a stretch denim that I got as part of my December ambassador allowance from The Fabric Store. This is a fab quality medium weight denim with a slightly nubbly texture and a little comfy stretch. I added one inch to the length on this pair so they’re just ankle-skimming and more appropriate for winter when worn with fun socks and sneakers.


I went a bit rogue with this and the pair below and made a closed front with a centre-back invisible zip to fasten. The pattern views include an exposed front zip or faux-fly front but I like the completely flat front – super comfortable and zero digging in of anything. One tip I’d say if you make view B is to stabilise that waist edge when you sew on the facing. There’s no waistband to keep things snug, which makes for a very comfortable fit but leaves it more susceptible to stretching out. I simply slip some cotton twill tape into the seam as I’m sewing the facing onto the waistline.


This is the second pair, which are one of my favourite things I made last year. They use a mystery fabric that I got as a remnant from Misan Textiles on Berwick Street. Misan is pretty pricey but you can get some great deals on the pre-cut lengths in the basement! It’s difficult to describe; it’s like a very heavy crepe with a slightly spongy sort of feel like a scuba, and a tiny bit of stretch. It doesn’t crease in the slightest and they feel wonderfully luxurious to wear, especially in the cold. And the colour is brilliant! I guess I should give this pattern a rest for a bit now as my trouser drawer literally overfloweth, but it’s certainly earned its TNT status.

TNT, or not TNT…

This is my second outfit using my ambassador fabric allowance from The Fabric Store, and it ties rather nicely into this month’s Sewcialists theme of TNTs, or ‘Tried and True’ – the patterns you love and reach for over and over again.

I’m a big TNT fan: once the fit is right and you’ve vouched for a pattern fitting into your wardrobe and lifestyle, why not make it again and again?! I even used to buy RTW clothing I liked in several colours so it’s sort of the same practice at work. Plus of course it’s always easier to sew a garment once you’ve made it once or twice, and you can have fun applying your own little hacks and tweaks to get it perfect.

One of these patterns is a TNT and one isn’t, and guess which was was the most fun to sew and will get more wear…?

Yep the trousers are another pair of Named Ninni Culottes. I wear my first pair in navy aaaaalll the time so really wanted a black pair to match my winter boots! (I’m really glad they pair rather well with boots, meaning I can still wear them in this fairly mild autumn weather).

These are actually a very true TNT because I used basically the exact same fabric too: a crinkle rayon from The Fabric Store. My navy ones have held up beautifully and while they go oddly crispy when the fabric is washed and wet, they straighten out again beautifully with a quick iron. I think this black fabric is slightly thicker and more structured, which makes it easier to work with and a little more suited to cooler weather. I love how smart black projects look inside with matching overlocking, and I used my yoke pocket pattern hack to make more practical pockets. Other than these I’ve made two more pairs of Ninnis, in bubblegum pink and in stripes, so it’s definitely a TNT that’s here to stay for me. The fact it takes like an hour to sew is a bonus!

The tee is the non-TNT, although it’s a pattern I’ve had for ages but hadn’t used yet: the Grainline Linden sweatshirt. I just wanted to try a raglan as opposed to my usual (and very much TNT) Plantain tee. I cut view B with the elbow-length sleeves and slightly dipped hem and eugh, it just didn’t work for me at all! The sleeves looked really dumpy and the fit around the top was poor, plus the neckline gaped like crazy. It seems like Grainline’s block fits like magic on some people and not on others, and I definitely fall into the latter camp. I’m afraid I threw the PDF straight into the recycling as I don’t think I can be bothered working on the fit to make it work for me.

In the end I cut the sleeves right down and finished them and the neckline with some proper ribbing (left over from my Joni pants): the fit is still not perfect but at least this is very wearable now and I didn’t waste the lovely fabric, which is The Fabric Store’s lightweight merino in skinny black/slate stripe. This fabric was again beautiful to work with and didn’t even complain too much about the hacking and altering I had to do to get this tee to fit. The merino should provide a cosy base layer for the cold, too.

I love the colours in this outfit and The Fabric Store’s luxurious-feeling fabrics means it’s really comfortable, and I know it will stand up to repeated wears and washes. I plan to make more TNTs this month for sure, and while I don’t often share repeated patterns on the blog I may make an exception to celebrate this month’s great Sewcialists theme.

It’s turtles all the way down

After cracking out my coat, here are some simpler sews ready for winter – lots of knits, built-in neckwarmers, and some bonus cosy pants. First up, this is a Papercut Rise, in a lovely grey marl rib that I’ve had in my stash for a while – I think it was from Woolcrest. I made this pattern up twice ages ago and both succumbed to washing fails, so I’m glad to have a new one (and to have learnt to never tumble-dry my handmades!)

This is a Sew House Seven Toaster 1 sweater. There are loads of lovely versions of this pattern in blogland but I think it was Heather’s gorgeous classic cream version that made me buy it. For a more shrunken fit I cut a size small, took a couple of inches off the body and sleeves, and brought in the neckline for a slightly closer fitting turtleneck. The neck sort of collapses because this fabric is pretty fine and drapey, but I still like how it looks. I used the reverse of the fabric – a soft knit with a slightly brushed back, also from Woolcrest I think – for most of the body, and the ‘right’ side for the cuffs and hem for a bit of subtle contrast. This pattern is so fast and has zero hemming, hurrah!

And for a bit of variety, this is Toaster with no turtle! Made from a lovely lilac marled sweatshirting from MyFabrics, with matching ribbing for the hem and cuff bands. I’m very into both cropped sweatshirts and pastel colours at the moment – rather new for me but I think these tones are actually pretty good on my colouring – so this sweater is ticking a lot of boxes.

Do you like my Pusheen mermaid socks :D

These trousers are the Style Arc Joni. I made these for a very specific use case: when you get home from work and immediately have to shrug off your awful constricting day clothes – lovely and well-fitting and handmade as they may be – and wriggle back into super comfy but definitely indoor-appropriate-only sweats or pyjamas. This pattern attracted me because they’re a bit elevated from basic track pants by the twisted lower leg seams, faux topstitched fly and little front tucks, but still pyjama-comfortable.

This pattern is easy as pie, only made a little more tricky by the drapey and stretchy quality of the fabric I used – a luxurious modal terry again from MyFabrics, again with matching ribbing for the waistband and cuffs. I’m a convert to investing in proper ribbing, it really makes it easier to get nice snug cuffs and neckbands and I think makes projects look more RTW.

I made them exactly as patterned with no fitting alterations; I could stand to take an inch or so off the leg but I don’t mind the slight slouch around the deep cuff that the extra length brings. I think I could even get away with wearing these to work on a casual/hungover sort of day. Come at me, winter!

P.S This post’s title refers to one of my favourite anecdotes

Lovely Lander

I made up True Bias’ new Lander pants pattern last weekend. I was sort of disappointed when I first finished sewing them, but a few little tweaks and I’m really digging them now.

I originally made these up in the full length, which is what threw me off knowing if I liked them or not. I was really hoping to like them in full length as I’m not sure how to translate my many pairs of cropped pants into the winter, and I find my previously-trusty skinnies really uncomfortable after a summer of breezy culottes! But alas, in the full length I couldn’t shake terrible 90s connotations of bootcut pants, especially in black as they reminded me of trousers I had to wear when I waitressed… they didn’t actually look awful, but I tried on a few pairs of shoes to test the styling and just couldn’t imagine wearing them much. So I took a few inches off and they were transformed into something I’m much more comfortable with.

The Lander’s key features are delightfully practical roomy patch pockets plus the exposed button fly, which as well as looking super cool was pretty fun to construct. Much easier than I was expecting and much more straightforward than a zip fly, although if you noticed I did manage to sew it backwards (a mirror image to what it should be), doh. You do end up with a lot of layers and seam allowances sandwiched in there, so it was a bit tricky to make the buttonholes and finish the waistband edges neatly. Next time I may cut-on the fly underlap to the front pant piece to reduce one of the seams.

I used some sweet rose-stamped jeans buttons that I’ve had kicking around for a while. They were cheap and don’t feel 100% secure, so I’m a little worried one might pop off at an inopportune moment. I did give them a good tug and they held out on my first day’s wear though so fingers crossed.

I cut a size 8 and did some pre-adjustments to the pattern before cutting my fabric to suit my shape: a full butt/thigh adjustment and switching the straight waistband for a contoured one (I think Kelli is going to cover this adjustment in the sewalong). The pattern features a generous 1″ seam allowance for the outer leg seams so there is opportunity to further fine-tune the fit through the hips at the sewing stage, which is a very nice touch. (Being me, I barely glanced at the instructions so missed this salient point, then got really confused when the waistband didn’t fit on, ha ha.)

Fabric-wise I used a very lovely selvedge denim from Ditto Fabrics that I grabbed from the shop on a daytrip to Brighton a few weeks ago. This denim feels beautiful quality – excellent for the price – and has slight stretch with good recovery. Because the inseam is straight I could use the raw selvedge edge, and I overlocked the other seams in matching white and pink thread.

In short: digging this pattern! I really like the fit I ended up with so I may do some little hacks on these in the future, and probably make the shorts version if I get somewhere warm on holiday soon.

More Landers out there: Marilla Walker, Meg, Handmade Frenzy, Dandelion Drift

Burda 7017 in cupro silk

I’ve had this lovely fabric earmarked for trousers for ages, and I dug out an old pattern to make ’em happen. They are Burda 7017, which are amongst some of the earliest trouser projects I ever tackled a few years ago, and now unfortunately seems to be out of print. I wouldn’t exactly say it’s embarrassing to look back at those earlier garments, but it was nice to revisit this pattern with all I’ve learned about fit, technique and fabric choices since then and see the improvements.

Having said that though, I averted a near-disaster on this pair when, after executing a lovely fly front completely from memory, I sewed up the side seams and found that I could barely squeeze myself into them. I don’t think I’ve gained a great deal of weight in the intervening years but perhaps I previously traced the pattern with extra safety seam allowance that never made it back to the paper pattern. Whoops.

After sulking for a bit I unpicked and re-sewed every single seam – inner and outer leg, the centre back and centre front below the fly – with a tiny little seam allowance, basically right next to the overlocked edge. That provided just enough extra room to allow them to fit, albeit a little slimmer than I was shooting for. I still don’t think I’ll feel too confident cycling in them in case it puts too much strain on those tiny seam allowances and they split open, but at least they feel comfortable and I can move in them.

I think the fabric makes this pair quite special and is the main reason why I was so relieved to save the fit: it’s a cupro-silk from the famous stall outside Sainsbury’s in Walthamstow market. I bought it over a year ago on a shopping trip with some other sewers; Marilla made up her Bennett dress pattern in it. I’m not sure if ‘cupro silk’ means that it’s a fibre blend or a cupro designed to look like silk, but it’s the most beautiful terracotta colour with a sort of dimensional shimmer and a slightly slubby texture, feels deliciously cool and floppy to wear, and was a dream to work with. I don’t think I’ll find fabric of this nature easily again unfortunately though I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.

I tried out a little tweak I wanted to test based on some ready-to-wear trousers that I love of inserting elastic into the back waistband to maintain a snug, flexible fit at the waistline. To do this I eliminated the darts from the pants back and added their takeup to the length of the waistband, then stitched in some 1″ non-roll elastic before sealing up the inner waistband. It worked out great so I’m going to retrospectively add elastic to my old black cotton 7017s that have stretched out and become too baggy at the waist, which will help ping them back to life.

Final guts shots to show the waistband, that lovely fly front, and those tiny seams…