Trousers are often seen as the holy grail of dressmaking. Many dressmakers will have gone several years into their dressmaking journey without making a pair!
There is a lot of fear and confusion surrounding fit, comfort, durability and style. So, let’s take a closer look how to choose a pattern to use and how to select and use haberdashery to offer a supporting role in creating your perfect trousers!
How to choose your trouser pattern…
Possibly the hardest part of trouser-making is choosing the right pattern as a starting point!
First, take a good look at the posed shot, where does the waistline sit, is the garment styled with heels or flats, would you style it in the same way or differently? This will give you a good idea of how the trousers will fit and work with your style and the rest of the garments in your wardrobe.
Look closely at the finished garment measurements. Use these measurements to decipher how much ease is included in the pattern.
Do you have a favourite pair of trousers you already own? Measure your garment at the hip, waist and rise and compare with the Finished measurements. You could also compare the crotch curve of your garment to the pattern by folding them in half and laying them on the pattern paper.
It’s a fact, many of us have a rounded tummy or wider hips. This can put us off making trousers to avoid the dreaded “does my bum look big in this”. It is much easier to visualise how a style will look on our individual bodies if it is shown on a range of body shapes - Until recently it was rare to see a style shot on a curvier woman, but designers are looking and listening and things are changing! “Yay” Indie pattern designers!
The Best Fabrics to Sew Trousers
So you’ve chosen your pattern, now to consider the fabric…
Consider carefully the pairing of fabric and pattern. If the pattern calls for a fabric with stretch don’t even consider a rigid woven, they just won’t be comfortable! Equally using a fabric with stretch for a pattern designed for a non-stretch is not a good idea, you may well end up with a saggy, baggy bum and knees.
If the fabric has a high polyester content you may find you get static issues. I have had to bin a pair of trousers in a lovey poly crepe because there was nothing I could do to stop the cling!
Consider making a toile but only in a similar fabric otherwise you will be wasting your time. You may only need to make a top half toile to prefect the fit of the crotch, hips and waist. By measuring, studying and comparing another garment you are happy with, you can save the time and stress of multiple toiles.
Essential Haberdashery For Trouser Making
- Elasticated waists are ah-may-zing! The freedom, the comfort! But you may feel they can add bulk and might not look as smooth and refined as you’d like. Many designers are now featuring half elastication in their patterns, so the front is smooth, and the back is elasticated. A definite win in my book!
- If you prefer a more tailored look, don’t be afraid to try a zip fly. The Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Core patterns includes a fail-proof step by step guide to this technique and a photo guide on their blog too. I’ve tried a number of techniques and this is by far the easiest and smartest.
- Rivets can take your jeans or trouser-making game to another level. Like all new techniques, take time to practice, make sure to check you are only cutting through the layer intended when making you holes (been there) and follow the instructions carefully. If you are at all worried about the strength and integrity of your fabric add a little interfacing on the inside of the fabric to support it.
- Try using a thicker topstitching thread in feature areas of your garment, this really adds a finesse to simpler garments. Always use a topstitching needle when using thicker thread – this needle has a bigger hole to allow the thread to pass thorough freely and avoid snagging or tangling.
- Think about areas that will suffer the most strain and wear and double stitch these approx. 2mm in from the seam line stitching.
- Consider the positioning of buttonholes and hook and bar fastenings carefully. You want to allow room for sitting and eating without the risk of the waistband being too loose and dropping open.
- Buttonholes should be placed horizontally on any areas of strain – waistbands and collars usually - and vertically at other positions. Consider using fray stop after creating buttonholes for a really neat finish. And ALWAYS do a test run – or 2!
- If you wear a top tucked into your trousers, why not use a fancy “feature” button on your waistband to add a bit of your own unique style. Also consider adding a leather patch and fancy stitching to your back pockets and belt loops. The styling on trousers is general fairly minimal but you can make them your own with a few carefully considered additions! Check out thespeckyseamstress.com for some fab patches and bias binding!
- If your fabric is at all clingy, light coloured or sheer you will want to consider lining or half lining your trousers. This works well for looser fitting styles. Depending on the style and fabric, you can use an anti-static poly lining, or, for natural fabric pairing, cotton works well. I love pairing cotton lawn with line to compliment the cool, breathable qualities of both fabrics.
- Don’t skip interfacing in the waistband and at pocket edges, it can be make-or-break! All elements in trouser making look better if the resulting look is purposeful and considered.
I hope these tips help you feel confident to try trouser-making!
This blog post was originally included in The Swatch List, issue four.
Archive copies of The Swatch List are available here