Ultimate Trousers: Part One

This is “Part One” firstly because this is the first in a three-part series reviewing the “Ultimate Guide to Sewing and Fitting Trousers” by Sew Over It; and secondly because I’m so chuffed with these pants, which are so comfortable and perfect for work OR wearing casually, that I have lots more pairs planned.

The online trouser fitting course is “all about learning how to sew¬†trousers and achieve the perfect fit.” It includes two (PDF) patterns, the Carrie Trouser (exclusive to the class) and the Ultimate Trousers which are available separately in a paper pattern or in PDF format. I watched all of the classes over one or two evenings and will share all my thoughts on the course in part three. Today I’ll talk about the “Ultimate Trousers”, and next post I’ll talk about the “Carrie Trousers”.

This pattern, therefore, is the “Ultimate Trousers” by Sew Over It. The pattern is a simple silhouette – slim fitting “ankle grazing” trousers with a waist facing and side zip. There are only four pattern pieces making it a really quick sew once you have the fit right. It comes in sizes UK 8-20; I chose to cut a straight size 20 for my muslin based on my measurements.

I decided to make my muslin from a non-stretch fabric so that I could ensure I had a really good fit (without “cheating” with lycra), and so that I could make the pants in a non-stretch if I want to – I have a particular green checked wool in mind here. I had the following fit issues from my muslin, with the corresponding changes I made:

  • Too tight in thighs – so on the non-stretch fabric I needed to use a 5mm seam allowance rather than 15mm
  • Legs not hanging straight – the trouser below the knee swung medially (an issue I’ve had on other pants too) – to fix this I cut a horizontal wedge out of the pattern just above the knees (following this video), removing 2cm from the side seams.
  • Bagging in the crotch – for this I had to change the shape of the crotch itself. It took a LOT of mental gymnastics to work out exactly what change I needed to make – in the end I added a sliver of fabric to make the crotch curve shallower (kind of the opposite to what Lauren/Lladybird did for her pair)
  • Too big in the waist at the small of my back – I took 2cm total from the center back seam at the waist, and removed a further 1cm from each back dart

I then made a pair in cheap-ish (on sale) stretch sateen from Spotlight – the sateen pair showed that I needed those full 15mm of seam allowance (possibly more), and I needed to raise the center back to to compensate for my bigger bottom. The pants looked great but unfortunately the cheap-ish sateen became horrendously baggy (bum, knees, everywhere) after only a few hours of wear so they may end up retiring pretty quickly.

So my “final” pair is made out of a much better quality stretch sateen from The Fabric Warehouse. I felt it was really important to pattern match the stripes (despite the fact that some are quite uneven), so I drew all over my pattern to match the side seams… before realising that I hadn’t lined up the stripes properly when I folded the fabric in half! Seeing as the center front and back seams would be the most obvious (to me) I ended up having to re-cut one of the pieces. Luckily I had JUST enough fabric to do it, but it did mean that they ended up being cropped trousers (which I quite like)

As you can see, the resultant fit (and stripe matching!) is really good! I ended up needing to use a 20-25mm seam allowance down the side seams to fix some bagginess under the bum but otherwise they are sooo comfortable.

Construction wise these are pretty straight forward. I followed the instructions and overlocked each piece before sewing the legs and then crotch seam – but ended up having to overlock again once I’d re-sewn the seams with a bigger seam allowance. The facing and interfacing has a clean finish, and I stitched stay-tape into the waist seam to stop it from stretching out. I put the invisible zipper on the RIGHT side, basically to see which I preferred, and have decided I do prefer it on the left.

All up the trousers only took two baby-naps and one evening to make, and they should be even faster next time.

The t-shirt I’m wearing is also hand made. After trying to make the idea t-shirt for YEARS, including trying many different patterns (including Sewaholic, Deer & Doe, Cashmerette), I have finally (almost) cracked it. This is based on a cheap single top from Glassons that fits me well, altered in the shoulders and chest based on my sloper, and drafted into a t-shirt style. I still need to make a few minor changes (shorten it, and shave off 1-2cm at the front of the armscye – which I think will fix those vertical lines above the between neckline and arm) but this is very almost my ideal t-shirt – firm fitting in the shoulders and bust then fitted-but-loose around the waist and hips. The fabric is cotton-elastane from Levana and is very nice quality, as usual.

Please excuse the baby-dribble on my top! We didn’t have enough sunlight left to wait for it to dry.

So that’s me. Pretty bloody pleased with myself, and my trousers. Now I just have to decide whether to jump into making a new pair immediately, or start on the rest of my sewing to-do pile.

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