My Thousand-Hour Pants

I finally, finally finished my black rayon crepe pleated trousers, which are to be worn with a separate liner that I completed a month ago.  I’ve decided to call these my Thousand-Hour Pants because while I hope they didn’t actually take that long, it feels like I’ve been working on them forever.

First, I made a muslin of flat-front pants that Peggy Sagers marked up for me in a fitting workshop in the summer of 2008.  Several months later, I made another muslin, just to be sure I understood the markings and hadn’t changed anything.  Then, I futzed around with making the flat-front pants pattern into pleated front trousers.  Then I tried another pattern that was already pleated, but the adjustments I made resulted in pants that someone else could have worn along with me.  So I took the side seams and inseams in a couple of times, then I tried the fitting technique for the crotch length suggested by the pattern designer, which was to put elastic around my waist and keep raising the pants until they fit, then mark the bottom of the elastic with chalk and make that the pant-to-waistband seamline.  When I attached the waistband and tried the pants on again, I discovered two things had happened.  First, the nice slant pockets had miniscule openings, because I had cut off so much of the pants at the top.  Second, the waistband was way too big. I’ve always had a very generous hip-to-waist ratio.  It was more pronounced in my misspent youth, but it’s still something that causes ready-to-wear pants that fit around my hips to have waistbands that don’t come anywhere close to my waist. Which, but the way, is why I want to sew my own pants in the first place.

So, after I made another pair that weren’t right (Are you keeping count of how many times I’ve sewn pants without being able to wear any of them?  This is not my idea of a good way to pare down the old stash!) I turned to an article from the June/July 2009 issue of the ever-fabulous Threads Magazine entitled “Improve the Bottom Line” written by Adrena Johnson.  When I first saw the article, I was so happy to see that I’m not the only woman on the planet who has this particular fitting issue.  Then, as I read through her very clear explanation about how the problem must be tackled from two angles, not just one, in much the same way a full bust adjustment is made, the light bulb went on.  I followed each step of her directions to alter the pattern, made yet another trial garment, this one in a bottom-weight twill rather than muslin.  Finally, finally I had a good fit.

Did I immediately crank out half a dozen pairs of perfect pleated pants?  Alas, no.  Work and other sewing projects came in between, but I did get to a point where I knew these pants would look great.  Getting to the hand finishing kept getting put at the bottom of the to do list, but that’s a subject for another post (not to mention years of therapy).  The completed trousers are now hanging in my closet waiting for their debut.

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