So I have taken the plunge and made trousers.

From the various blogs and books I’ve read, the challenge in making trousers isn’t really with the sewing of them (save for mastering a fly insertion, potentially complicated pockets and dealing with top stitching, depending on the style) but in the fitting issues they bring. All sorts of new terminology arises, like crotch depth and length, smile lines, frown lines, scooping the crotch… Quite a lot about crotches really.

As I understand it, you can have problems trying to work out what is causing the fit problems, as it may actually be something unrelated to what you think is causing the issue.

So I decided that my first pair of trousers would be the new Sew Over It Ultimate Culottes. My thought process for this ran along the following lines:

  • Culottes seem to be the latest on trend thing in the sewing world and whilst I’m not too worried about being particularly on trend, you do get inspired when you see people’s versions of culottes starting to pop up on Pinterest etc, plus pattern designers start coming out with their own take on the look, increasing the chances of finding a version I think will look right on my shape and height;
  • Culottes should be great for summer, being breezy, non rub-inducing in the (hopefully) hot sweaty weather – basically a great blend of skirt and shorts; and
  • As they are not a skinny fitting trouser all down the leg, there should (also hopefully!) be slightly fewer fitting issues to grapple with.

I did a shorts length version muslin, to see if I could spot anything that needed changing in the pattern, before I cut out my wearable toile version. I also removed about 7 inches in length from the pattern itself as I knew I wanted them to be around knee length. The pattern seemed pretty long as drafted and would have put them near my ankles!

The muslin showed I needed to take a wedge out of the front crotch, which I did with a dart to check it looked about right. It seemed to and hence I sallied forth.

The sewing process all went pretty well. I machine sewed the waistband lining into place rather than hand sewing it, and it looks very nice. Probably a little less polished on the inside, but still pretty clean.

The only real problem I had with the pattern instructions was with the belt loops. I pressed the seams of the loops to roll them to the back slightly, so the seam would be hidden. The instructions said to pin and stitch them right sides together. As I hadn’t really envisaged how it would all look when turned the right way round, I only realised after sewing it all up that of course my loop seams were now all clearly showing from the right side. Sigh.

I unpicked the waistband at each of the five loops, took them out, repositioned them and sewed it all up again.

Much better!

Unfortunately, at this stage when I tried the culottes on it became apparent that my shortening of the crotch wasn’t enough. They sat far too low and felt uncomfortable with the seam rubbing. I didn’t know what to do as I couldn’t fix it by scooping out the crotch or taking in side seams etc. The area simply needed more fabric so the seam sat higher. A bit hard to do that retrospectively!

I didn’t know whether just to try to wear them as is, ditch( i.e. give them to a charity shop) as a pure learning exercise, or find some other way to improve the fit. After sleeping on it I thought it might work if I took off the waistband and removed an inch or so from the top of the trousers, then sewed the waistband back on so that the crotch would sit higher.

I think it is a sign of my slowly increasing confidence with this whole sewing business that I decided to go with option c. Even after I realised this would also involve taking out and moving the invisible zip! Oh yes, and increasing each of the dart intakes so the measurements for the top of the trousers would match the waistband.

I tried it out roughly on the original muslin first, to check it would do as I needed.

Excuse the dodgy photos! The joys of sewing in my gym gear.

Anyway, it felt like it might work and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I pressed on.

This is how much I cut off in the end. And they now fit much better, hooray! I also shortened the length even further as I very rarely suit things at mid calf length and these were still too long, even after shortening the pattern at the start.

So, here they are, styled a bit tongue in cheek with a nod to their 70s vibe.

After all that, I’m not 100% they really suit me though! I think the proportions may make my bottom look a bit long and my torso a bit short. But I will try them on with a few other tops and see how they look. I’m sure I’ll wear them anyway, as a useful sort of thing to throw on for every day stuff. Made in this chambray viscose material, they should certainly go with loads of colours.

All in all I’m pretty happy with how my first trouser making experience went. And so onto the second pair…

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