When it comes to sewing, what do you wish for the most? For many, myself included, it is time. More time to sew! Everyone has demands on their time, and if you're anything like me, you use sewing for relaxation and downtime. Effective use of time also ranks up there for me. We all know the frustration of devoting our precious time to making a garment and it just isn't quite right. But to perfect the fit on a basic garment can be such a triumph, and when those precious seconds present themselves we can dive in, knowing it won't be wasted.
I decided that this was the year I'd devote some of my precious sewing time to attempting a fabulous fit in trousers. I've tried before, with mixed success. But with a few years of sewing clothing and some fitting experience under my belt, it was time for another attempt. I wear trousers every day at work, and to have a great fit in a simple, adaptable pattern would be a dream. The Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers seemed to me to be pretty close to a trouser block - drafted for a fabric with no stretch, no waistband or pockets to faff with (just a simple faced waistline) and with multiple darts to hone a fantastic fit.
After consulting the fantastic trousers fit book Pants for Every Body, I decided to make my toile in a checked fabric. All I had in my stash was a madras, but it still did the job - using a checked fabric helps with fit by making it easier to see distorted grain lines. I must admit initial disappointment as my first version was so tight. So tight! I was careless with my measurements. But other than needing to size up, leave off the front darts and take a 1cm wedge out of the centre front crotch (tapering to nothing at the side seams), I could see such potential.
The same day as making my toile, I signed up for a 35km charity walk with friends and began training. And 2 weeks later, I sized up without trying on my toile again. Now too big - my rump had shrunk! But the construction of the trousers makes it fairly easy to make adjustments, by finishing the raw edges of the pieces before construction. I took in about the same amount I'd increased by around the waist and hips, and narrowed the legs a little more for a more tapered fit. The fabric choice was a bit of a disaster - a very heavy Levi's denim that wasn't at all comfortable to wear. The waistline stretched out - a combination of not stay stitching and the natural properties of the denim twill. The husband declared them "too '90s". Another version would be needed.
And so to version 3. Made in a beautiful lightweight black chambray denim, sized back down to my original toile, with a more tapered leg. I prefer a narrow leg rather than straight, and so took out a little width from the knee down, on both the inseam and outseam.
As both an experiment to prevent the waistline stretching out on this version, and an attempt at saving a little time, I sourced some very wide Petersham ribbon and used this instead of a self fabric facing. It worked fabulously, creating a nice snug fit (or, if you are my husband, a MuffinTrap).
I cut the waistline measurement, plus a couple of extra inches, and soaked the ribbon in hot water. I then dried it with the iron, stretching and curving it into shape to mimic the pieces of the facing. I finished the raw ends with my overlocker, then attached it like a traditional facing - grading, understitching, then securing it to the trousers by stitching in the ditch of the side seams and darts.
And the fit? So close to being great - there are still a few drag lines in the front crotch (that are more visible in these pics than real life) suggesting I need a smidge more length removed. And the bum is still snug - but I'm still in training and I think things will loosen up there in the coming weeks. But I really like the leg shape, especially with a little ankle cuff rolled up. It does take a little getting used to wearing trousers without stretch - it wasn't the easiest task finding a bottom weight without Lycra!
My next step with this pattern will be to adjust it for something with a little stretch. Then looking at pockets. And then learning how to make some welts to break up that bottom expanse..... Just need a little more time of course! 😉