Just to be clear, these are not trousers that I wear in case of an emergency, these are trousers that were made on very short notice because I realized I didn’t own any nice-ish slacks and had an imminently starting job.
How can this happen to an almost-thirty year old woman? Well. I’ve had a really weird slew of jobs since college and the biggest job has been watching my kids. Now that I’m actually working in an office again, something I haven’t consistently done for over 5 years, my wardrobe needed a bit of a reboot.
Nothing drastic mind you, but I needed some office clothes in a very real sense. MemadeMay this year taught me that a fair number of my garments are from college if not high school, and as you might have guessed, they don’t all look extremely professional.
The Emergency Circumstances:
I got a job offer the week before Thanksgiving and accepted it a day or two later. On Black Friday, I realized I really needed to have some office-ready wear made in this decade. My kids happened to be staying over at their grandma’s, so I had an opportunity to get some sewing done. Little did I know, these pants would turn into a beast of a project.
A Lost Pattern and an Adventuresome Spirit:
The first thing to go terribly wrong was that my pattern ran away. I had set it aside knowing I would want it again soon, and the dang thing just disappeared! Have you heard of baby brain or mom brain? Well I was just getting over those. And now I have a much worse case of divorce brain. Stuff just vanishes! I have no idea where it goes. But it’s probably in the same place as a couple of important bank documents, my husband’s love for me, and …. well I can’t remember what else I’ve lost because divorce brain! hnnngh!
So this was a setback. I spent about 3 hours reorganizing my sewing room in hopes that the darn pattern would reappear once it had a cozy place to sit, but to no avail. The pattern I wanted to use was this McCalls pattern that I made these shorts out of. It’s a great pattern. Except that it ran away!
So after a very frustrating search and a lot of wasted time, I ended up grabbing a different pants pattern, Simplicity 6897. It didn’t have pockets, it didn’t have a fly zipper, and it didn’t have belt loops. All things I definitely wanted in my trousers. So I bravely decided to draft them all myself using my shorts as a rough template.*
*SIDENOTE: Why do I have so many pants patterns? Well sometimes thrift shops sell sewing patterns in bundles in sealed bags. So you can’t see all the patterns you're getting. It’s kind of like buying a magic mystery bag. It’s super fun, but you end up with a really weird variety of patterns.
During this search and decision making process, I called my mother several times and frustration. She was like the snake in Eden tempting me. “It’s Black Friday. Just go buy some pants!” But I’m proud to say, I avoided temptation…for a while. I ended up going to Savers like a week later. Because I’m only so strong, people. And one pair of pants is not all you need for an office-ready wardrobe.
As I mentioned, my pattern didn’t include pockets or other basic details, but I decided to add them in myself. The first thing I had to do was redraft the sides to include a slash pocket.*
*SIDENOTE: I didn’t know what this type of pocket was called so I googled around: This edumacated me.
Part of the reason I was so gung-ho on making these pants, aside from really needing some work-appropriate wear, is that I had this great wool fabric a friend de-stashed to me. And if I bought pants, I would have to pay money, whereas I already had all the supplies to make them right in my house.
This fabric is a wool blend as far as I can tell. It had a couple of tiny holes in it which I darned closed with sewing thread before cutting the pieces out.
The first time I did a slash pocket was in some pajama pants I made from a scrubs pattern. I really love this type of pocket because it gives less bulk than a side pocket on the seam.
To reduce the bulk even more, I used a much thinner fabric for the inside, unseen portion of the pocket. I also cut an extra waistband piece from this fabric to line the waistband. I’m really glad I did this because I think it reduced the stretch in the waistband and reduced itch.
To do a fly instead of just a zipped waist, I added extra length to the waistband, about 2 inches or so, so I would be sure to have enough overlap. On the right center front of the pants, I also notched out to create space for the fly. It didn’t occur to me at the time to look up a tutorial for this online, but now that I’m not frantically trying to get pants made, I have the wherewithal to look it up. Turns out Grainline has a pretty great tutorial here. I got lucky and just kind of flew by the seat of my pants (hehehe….no pun intended) based on my vague recollection of making my lederhosen shorts.
The next big change I made were some fitting adjustments. The pattern was way wide at the knee, so I brought the thighs and knees in a bit. My cutting lines on the lower legs ended up being a little wavy, and you can kind of see how it’s not a super flat seam around my calves.
Once I had the pieces all cut and started sewing, I got kind of cocky and set up a lunch date with my mom. This lunch date got pushed back further and further and turned into a supper date as time ticked by. I swear, I had very few hiccups in the project. But “sewing”** takes so much longer than you think it should!
**SIDENOTE: I put sewing in quotations because it’s not really the sewing that takes so long. We have a machine that makes that a breeze. It’s the cutting and the fitting the pinning and the basting and the reading instructions etc etc. Also * cough cough * I may have sewed over some folds in the fabric because I was trying to sew quickly. This is the worst feeling. Ripping out a seam because you accidentally sewed the hem of the pants into a side seam. It’s hard to convince yourself that you’ve any brains at all when you are forced to admit you made such a stupid mistake.
I drafted in little belt loops and totally ignored the pattern instructions for the waistband. Instead whatever folding nonsense they had written, I just pieced my lining to the inside after ironing down the folds. This would have worked like a charm….if I was more adept at top- stitching. As it is, I missed my lining a couple of times and it still gaps because I was getting late for my dinner-date.
The Final Product
All in all. I really love these pants. There are a few mistakes in them. But no one else seams to notice and people seem pretty genuinely surprised when they compliment them and I say I made them.
I have just a tiny bit of fabric leftover. Which is a shame because I’d love to make a little matching vest. I’ve got another thrift store pattern, MCCall’s 6226 which would be lovely in view A. Does anyone know of a good newsboy hat pattern?
Do they follow my rules for clothes:
Ethical: YES! Made from destashed fabric and a thrift-store zipper and button, no new materials excepting thread were used to make these pants. My sanity was the only human cost.
Affordable: YES! I bought nothing to make these pants. The pattern, zipper, and button were all in supply bundles from a second-hand shop I had purchased for other projects. So really the total cost of these pants was FREE!
Comfortable: YES! These pants are so warm, I want to wear them all the time and I have to remind myself I can’t do that because I need to keep them in good shape for work. Also, the pockets are big enough to hold my phone which makes them much more useful than any other nice trousers I’ve ever owned.
Beautiful: Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not sure how many pants I would call “beautiful”. But I do get stopped and told these are cute when I wear them out and about. I really am pleased with the way they fit and I feel great when I wear them. So…YES!
They are long enough! It’s quite difficult for me to find trousers that are long enough. I usually have to buy them from the store with cuffs and then open the cuffs for extra length.
Pockets! How many trousers have you loved that had pockets? For me, the list is very short. So these are just great!
Warmth! These are so so cozy. The wool weave is just great perfect for the December weather.
P.S. I finished my dog’s sweater.