Make some pants that’ll make you want to dance

I made pants!  Real pants.

I didn’t realize how real these pants would get when I started making them. I’d never made pants before (not counting the lower half of a jumpsuit), and there were a lot of things I didn’t realize in advance. Maybe that’s unsurprising, hindsight being what everybody knows it is.

I wore these pants to the library (when they were still unfinished and held together with safety pins for closures).  I’m wearing these pants right now (held together with hooks and eyes). Me and these pants are on a train about to go to David Bowie’s Lazarus, incidentally. I feel pretty at home in these pants.

These emerged from the free “Morocco Pants” pattern. I think “emerged from” is more accurate than “are” because I made a lot of changes along the way. The fabric is a cotton-linen blend called “Essex” from a company called Robert Kaufman, which I got at Purl Soho. I don’t know if it’s marketed as quilting fabric or apparel fabric or what. I like the fabric.

I think it might have been easier to start with a pattern that had pockets, a zipper, darts, and a non-elasticated waistband, but it’s too late for that now, at least for this pair. Besides, the pants are designed with a fit I like through the legs and hips.

I guess I took the “learn by doing” approach, as they say. I hope I did enough right and remember enough of what I did when I was making these and didn’t know what I was doing.

These are the Morocco Pants as designed for the Fabric Store

My relationship with this pattern began when I read a post in which a blogger or Instagrammer (I will add a link if I find the post) claimed that her favorite pants were the “Morocco Pants,” which was a free pattern from The Fabric Store. This particular blogger or Instagrammer had actually substituted the Morocco Pants pattern for the pants portion of the Marilla Walker Roberts Collection jumpsuit. I was impressed with the result and thought I, too, might like the fit of these pants.

Before I cut the fabric, I changed the pattern to accommodate slash pockets like the Marilla Walker Ilsley Skirt and my revised Lotta Jansdotter Owyn shorts.

This was easy. I just: (1) cut off the waistband to be a separate piece because the skirt is designed with pockets that stop just below the waistband, (2) cut the side of the pants pattern at the angle of the slash pockets just like the skirt pattern, and (3) made pocket lining and facing pattern pieces like the pockets for the skirt pattern except slightly larger because I’d like the pockets in my Ilsley Skirt even more if they were a little roomier.

After cutting the fabric, I started by sewing the pockets. I sewed the pockets with French seams just like the pockets on the Ilsley skirt.

Next, I moved on to the sides and inseams, which I decided to do as French seams because I love the way they look, although I knew this might mean sacrificing more of the seam allowance than a traditional seam. I figured it would probably be fine because the pants are meant to be loose so the fit is inexact and probably had a little wiggle room. I took a calculated risk.

For the crotch seam, I wanted a finished edge, but I didn’t know if French seams could cross each other. I decided against trying to sew the crotch as another French seam that would intersect the French-seamed inseams. Instead, I decided to seal the edges of the seam with bias tape, which I think is called a “Hong Kong seam.”

Then, I tried on the pants. They looked a lot like real pants! This appearance of success went straight to my head. I got overly ambitious. I decided I couldn’t bear to put in an elastic waistband and had to find another way.

I added an invisible zipper to the middle of the back seam.

Mid-pants-making, looking for practical advice — I found some peculiar facts about the history of gender & pants

Then, I perused the Golden Hands Book of Dressmaking for tips on pants-making. The book advised that pants should be fitted by adding darts along the front and/or back and the sides can be taken in, but the seams at the midline should not be adjusted.

So, I added some darts and changed the angle of the side seams to come in at the waist.

At this point, I started to feel worried. I had veered off the pattern and knew I was gambling. The odds seemed against me. I had decided to omit the elastic because I wanted a cooler-looking pant, but I didn’t know how to make a waistband. After inserting the darts and zipper and changing the sides, I did not feel confident that I’d be able to make a wearable pair of fitted pants from a pattern intended to have an elastic waist. I was worried that the pants might look terrible.

The old Golden Hands book advised that waistbands should be slightly smaller than the width of the waist of the main garment — the difference seems related to ease, which I encountered in the Sorbetto Top by making set-in sleeves. I cut a 4″ tall waistband a little shorter in width than the waist of the pants and sewed the waistband piece to the pants, oriented kind of like the Lotta Jansdottor Owyn or the Purl Soho City Gym shorts patterns, except the shorts patterns did not have ease below the waist and were continuous loops.

Finally, (after removing and replacing the waistband a couple of times to fine-tune the darts and side seams), I turned up and stitched the hems, added hooks and eyes to close the waistband and called them done.

For the next pair, I’m not sure if I should remake this pattern with my changes or find a pattern that is fitted, but I look forward to making more pants.

2 thoughts on “Make some pants that’ll make you want to dance

  1. So you started with a simple pattern, and altered it with pockets, darts, zipper and waistband… that is a real accomplishment, especially for a beginner.

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