Pages

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Troubles with Sewing Trousers - Beginner's Guide

I started this blog in January and also returned to sewing about the same time.  I had a list of garments that I needed to (re) learn how to make - and fit.

On this list was trousers.  These seem to strike fear into the hearts of most sewers - who look at their own fit hypercritically - while perhaps not quite realising RTW can be just as unflattering.

I decided to use a very basic pattern because that has a clearly defined waist line, and hipline and no interfering factors to detract from the problems of working out how to fit pants.  I used a Palmer Pletsch pattern developed for McCalls.  It is not fashionable, it does not have lots of style lines and distractions and is a great way to start making pants and to learn.

McCalls M5239

 I have played around with a few variations on trousers and have come to the conclusion that three things are important:

*Choosing a style that suits you (ladies with big hips and thighs - the classic pear - do not look good in skinny jeans, ladies with large tummies are better off with flat front trousers - and so on.  I have some recent posts about body shape, so please refer to them:

http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-petite-figure.html
http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-rectangle-figure.html
http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-oval-or-diamond.html
http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-inverted-triangle.html
http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-hourglass-figure.html
http://sarahlizsewstyle.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/body-shape-style-guide-trianglepear.html

*Practicing the actual making of trousers - trying to learn how to sew trousers and how to fit trousers all at once is quite daunting.  Try to not be critical of your first attempts - make a muslin and fit that as best you can, and then make up the pants.  That way you will get practice and over time you will improve.

*Congratulating yourself for your attempts and if you are not happy with them entirely, to view the experience as a step in learning.  You can learn something from each pair of trousers you make.   I would also recommend putting them aside for a few days and then try them on again - especially after you have gone looking for something better in RTW and found nothing - you may then be pleasantly surprised by how good your work it.


I went through a run of practicing all sorts of shapes and styles in order to work out what looked good.  I knew classic trousers worked for me, but of course I also wanted to wear high fashion - which does not work for me - so, you see, choosing the right style is so important. 

Don't get disheartened when the trousers are still half made up - they always look better finished and being worn with other clothes.  I'll bet you wouldn't like a lot of trousers in the fitting room either, but you know that they will be worn with other garments - please extend yourself the same courtesy with your sewing.  Wear your new trousers with other garments and with pride.

Remember that while you want a "perfect fit" that no such thing really exists - a lot of what we see are airbrushed images with absolutely no movement or wrinkles.   If you look at garments being worn in real life you will find a lot more variation in the look and movement of trousers/pants.  So, practice getting a good fit, not perfection in fit.  


Sarah Liz:)

23 comments:

  1. What a timely piece... I have some denim here.... Deep breath... (and maybe I'll take your advice and try a practice first in some old curtain material!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sally, it would be a very good idea to make up the old curtains first!

      Delete
  2. Hear! Hear! For me, certain fabrics are a no, no too - patterns and cling I give a big miss. I don't need to draw attention to thick thighs and 'child-bearing' hips!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said Janine - in factg, stylish clothes never cling - they skim. And patterns do make large hips look bigger, so very much best avoided if you have the pear shape tendencies :)

      Delete
  3. This is a very wonderful post. Pants are like a holy grail for me. I have got the Thurlow pattern from Sewaholic sitting here. I have 2 lots of fabric ... and I chicken out.

    there is a great 'drive' for perfection within the sewing community. Not that we hold each other to those standards (at least no one I read does), but we hold it against ourselves. Every time I post about an item I almost compulsively want to highlight the flaws ie the hemline is not even, the neckline is not perfect and omg the top stitching. I really try not to, because I feel like it takes the joy of having something accomplished, but it is almost a compulsion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Giggles - I agree there is an obsessionality with perfection along with a form of competitiveness - and I don't think any of us need that. I guess it is not a bad idea to know where you would like to improve in a garment, but as you say, we tend to think of it as flaws - self talk can be quite negative. I think perhaps though these are also positive traits in that we also try out best. Just so long as it doesn't get out of hand :)

      Delete
  4. That was a very interesting and informative post and it reminded us all to be kind to ourselves. Mmmm I like that. I have just finished my first pair of jeans style pants - will do photos and post tomorrow. I am not sure about the fit or the style for me - but will wait for all your comments good and bad :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, well done on making jeans - I haven't made them for years and will be making some this year - we will have to compare and contrast. Looking forward to seeing them soon :)

      Delete
  5. This is a great post, and although your tips are aimed at trouser making, they could well be applied to all aspects of sewing. Sometimes it's hard to remember that even if the fit of our handmade items isn't what we would class as perfect, it's better than the fit of shop-bought items.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sam, thank you, you are right, the tips can be applied to all aspects of sewing - and other areas of life as well :)

      Delete
  6. This is a good post, and this is why you are good at blogging :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I So Agree! You Always Put Forth A Well Thought Out, Concise, Helpful Content. :)

      Delete
  7. I am a beginner really...I've had fun sewing things. I worked on the S2700 pattern and got a decent fit in my muslin. I cut my fashion fabric. I got dismayed by the assembly of everything. :(

    So many steps with just the front of the pants have me super daunted. I am squirreling in with my machine when I get home, unpicking the fly work I've done (the pockets look good) and hopefully getting to the point of basting all the vertical seams together.

    So thank you for this timely post. I *need* to get my sewing mojo back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, just take it one step at time - one day do the first part of the front, the second day, the next part. Fly's can be a nuisance - I find that some ways of inserting fly's do not work very well. I use a simple method that was also in the pattern above and use it for other pants as well.

      Delete
  8. Good advice to everyone SarahLiz-I do make a lot of my pants but am never really happy with the fit. No one else seems the least bit bothered by my less than perfect pants :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nor should they be - but I'll bet you notice how their pants sit - it's something we sewers tend to do:)

      Delete
  9. Sarah, thank you for sharing your knowledge and your trials and errors.. Really great advice.. Happy sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you - I make a point of sharing the T's and E's so that other people realise they are not the only ones struggling with the same sorts of problems :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've just followed Red Point Tailor over here, and I have to say your last comment about a good vs perfect fit was encouraging! I've made a few pairs of trousers in my sewing lifetime, and the most successful ones have been dress pants of a more classic Katharine Hepburn style. However, I've recently sewn up 4 new pairs, and tweaking the fit has been an interesting journey. I'm not done yet, but then I think every single pattern is a one-of-a-kind project that has it's own issues. Every time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Tia Dia - I love the old style pants - they were much easier to fit (because they sort of didn't - they were so fluid and drapey). I'm back to working on pants this week. Yes, getting the fit right is really interesting - that is sort of the best approach to take really :)

    ReplyDelete