A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, September 26, 2016

I made pants!

Here is a rare situation where I bit off more than I thought I could chew and it actually turned out really, really well.  

While on vacation last month, I saw the tester call for Alina Design Co.'s new Chi-Town Chino Expansion Packs.  Expansion Pack 2, full-length chino pants, immediately caught my eye.  I hesitated in applying because my normally busy fall, with the start of the homeschool year and both my daughters' birthdays, is even busier this year.  My little brother is getting married and not only am I sewing the kids' outfits, but I am baking the wedding cake.

I did not have time to test a pattern, especially not an involved pattern like these pants.

I really liked the look of the chinos, though, so I threw caution to the wind along with my name in the hat.  I got to work immediately after we returned from our initial two weeks at the beach.  I spent a solid week working on the pants, and not only am I really happy with the way they turned out, but I learned a ton.  They are the first pair of adult pants I've ever made, but they definitely will not be the last.

I wear jeans nearly every day in fall and winter, but like many of us, I have a lot of trouble fitting into any other RTW pants.  I always thought it was because I have thick legs, and that most pants "just didn't look good on me."


Sewing to the rescue yet again!

Testing these chinos turned out to be a great lesson in fitting.  Alina and other more experienced pants-sewing testers were very helpful in trouble-shooting fitting issues.  But perhaps even more helpful was being ablee to see other people's muslins and projects in the testing Facebook group and read diagnoses of fit issues I didn't encounter in my own pants.  It was really like a crash course in pants fitting.

These pants are a tester version size 16 and a pretty good representation of the pattern.  My muslin had a lot of excess fabric under my behind, so I had to slice a triangle off the back leg by cutting length off the back crotch curve and tapering to nothing down around the knee (funnily enough, this sort of adjustment is called a "thin thigh," something no one has ever accused me of having).  While I was fiddling with my muslin, I ended up taking more than 2" off the crotch curve.  Somehow, while this seemed to work ok in my made-of-muslin muslin, it did not work at all in the cotton twill I used for these pants. I couldn't sit without them sliding all the way down. 

To say I was bummed would be an understatement.  I was really motivated to make the pants wearable, so I mulled over how to add length back to the crotch.  I ended up putting in a crotch gusset to restore some of the back crotch length I had removed, and it worked.  My final pants had a thin thigh adjustment of about 1 3/8", and it's still a little much.  Once I redo it, I expect it to be pretty close to the thin thigh adjustment Alina made on the final pattern.

In addition to the above changes, my muslin showed me that I needed to take out 1" of height from the front crotch.  I also widened the legs of the pants from the mid-calf downwards to make the pants hang on me more like the line drawing. Despite all my adjustments, there are a lot of diagonal ripples from the back of my knees to my inner thighs.  The ripples become less pronounced after the fabric relaxes, but they are still a bit excessive.  After doing some research I have postulated that I am slightly knock-kneed, and that I need to add more length to the inseam of my pants to fix those ripples.

I used this cotton twill from Joann's, bought with a 60%-off coupon.  I used it two years ago for cargo pants for G, and those things held up to twice-weekly washing until he outgrew them.  I expect to be putting them on Niko this winter and then we'll match!

The waist is finished with a waistband facing instead of a waistband, and closes either with a button or a hook-and-eye closure (I chose the latter).   The pants have slash front pockets and back welt pockets with French seams and button closures.  I really love the French-seam feature of the pockets, and have used it since on the welt pockets of the three pairs of Oliver+S Art Museum Trousers I made for the wedding.

The day after I finished these pants, I took the kids back to the beach with my dad for a few days.  We needed a little more vacation.  It was so humid that my camera lens fogged up every time I took it outside. The resulting photos I took at the beach are pretty bad, but looking at them makes me happy so I'm posting a couple anyway.

The welt pockets are finished with buttons, but you'll notice there are no pocket buttons on these pants.  That is because when I lengthened the back rise on the pants, I did not think to adjust the pocket bags.  As a result, the interfaced part of the pocket back, which is meant to support the button, doesn't line up with the buttonhole.  I left them off and actually prefer my pants without pocket buttons, but if you want buttons on your pants and are also messing with the back pattern pieces, be sure to adjust the pockets correspondingly.

It's been a few weeks since we returned from our impromptu half-week at the bach and summer is finally over.  We wore sweatshirts and socks to the park today.  I'm in mourning, but at least I have some nice new pants to cheer me up.


  1. Your chinos look so nice and comfy too! I got the pattern this morning and now I need to go shopping for some fabric like this asap! I wasn't into the initial shorts version but these expansion packs are just what I like (and have trouble fitting into with RTW)...

  2. Wow, you know put a lot of work into those pants. Very impressive! Pants fitting is no joke.

  3. I am so grateful to you for testing! I know my testers have extremely busy lives and families and full-time jobs and are always adding to the chaos, but choose to pitch in and help anyway. Thank you so much--these look amazing on you!

  4. Oh my goodness, look at you!!! You MADE TROUSERS! With an actual waistband and zip fly! I am so impressed! And they look like they fit wonderfully. What a learning experience. So so impressed.

  5. These turned out so cute, I'd wear the heck out of them if I were you! Great job!

  6. WOW these are amazing! You did a fantastic job. I'm always so impressed by your stick-to-it attitude! Whenever I get stuck with fit issues on a sewing project, I just get frustrated and tired and usually give up.

  7. Oh I an so happy for you! These are seriously impressive!

  8. I am so impressed!!! These look so good!!!!!!!

  9. These look really fabulous on you!
    I wish I could sew pants (I've been told that handmade are so much better (fitting-wise) than store-bought).

  10. I love your version!! They look so great :) I am glad you were able to fix all the issues on the final fabric. It always blows my mind how things could be perfect on a muslin and go completely sideways on final fashion fabric. But yours turned out great!

  11. Seriously impressive, Masha. And best of all, they look GREAT on you.


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