Velvet pants refashion – my almost Birkin flares

Wowowowowow!!! Birkin flares! I love this new pattern and even though this post is only about my ‘almost’ Birkin flares, I am definitely making a proper pair very very soon.

But let’s go back to the beginning of the story.

There is a beautiful little fabric shop in Adelaide, which my daughter introduced me to a few years ago. It was one of those situations that makes you think ‘How did I not know this?’, because I’d been vaguely interested in sewing for many years, but had no idea this shop was here.

It’s called Catwalk Fabrics. It is located on an out-of-the-way part of Coglin Street in Brompton that you’d just never find by accident. Someone needs to tell you it’s there.

This little shop is where Lis Moritz sells her carefully curated selection of quality garment fabrics. She has an impeccable eye for quality and selects the very best fabrics, including many designer fabrics.

Lis and her shop are a critical part of Adelaide’s boutique garment design sector. And for home sewers like me who are still learning, she offers both inspiration and guidance.

The fabrics I’ve bought from here over the past few years have sewn up beautifully and made the garments that much nicer.  Which is why it was such a shame that I naively made some of her beautiful blue stretch cotton velvet into some relatively ugly baggy pants a few years ago. The fabric was gorgeous – but the shape of the pants was not. I had a few small scraps still left over, but not enough to make anything with.

I went into her shop the other day in the hope that some of this beautiful fabric would still be there, but sadly it had all sold (not surprising given it was I think 2 years ago that I bought this beautiful stuff).

So there was only one thing for it – and I went home to try and refashion my baggy velvet pants. (After buying some other fabric of course, but I’ll leave that for another post.) My leftover scraps from home would be enough to make the waistband and pockets. Just!

Which brings me to the Birkin flares pattern.

It is a print-at-home pdf, which is okay but I prefer printed patterns when I can get them. I went to Officeworks to print the copy shop version, got 2 copies thinking ‘one to cut and one to keep’, and it was only later that I noticed that they had not printed them quite to scale. While the pattern instructions show very clearly how to get it to print the actual size and scale of the pattern, and I’d explained this to the staff, they weren’t able to do it for some reason.

The 4cm inner square had printed at 3.6cm – and the staff at Officeworks seemed to have no idea how to fix it. I had to go elsewhere to get it printed properly to scale.

In the end, one of the friendly engineers at my office printed it for me – perfectly to scale, first time. Engineers are simply the best people.

I spent a whole evening unpicking the original pants to make sure I had as much fabric available as possible. It was clear when I laid the pieces out with the pattern pieces that this would not be an entirely faithful rendition of the Birkins. I did not have enough fabric for the flare and SERIOUSLY AM I REALLY THAT SHORT?? (Answer: yes)

But I had enough there to work with, to make shorter pants with less flare. So I set to work, having no idea how that would work out in reality.

And may I just say – these are the absolute best jeans I have ever, ever owned and I am so, so, so, so incredibly happy with them!

The blue velvet is softer than a stretch denim, but does have a nice stretch and just a delicious velvet finish. It sews up well, washes well, irons well and holds a crease if I need it to, without getting wrinkly as I wear it. So thank you Catwalk Fabrics – it’s basically the perfect fabric, and why I just couldn’t leave it alone.

Obviously they are shorter and less flared than the pattern, but that’s because of the limited fabric I had to work with. But I still think I have just enough flare, and just barely enough length to work great as jeans with flat shoes. That’s okay – flat shoes is all I can wear these days anyway.

There are a few minor issues, as you might expect given the awkward beginnings.

The top of the zipper is showing a bit. This is not a major concern as the likelihood of me tucking anything in is essentially zero. Because, you know, mummy tummy from twins several decades ago (I love that they give me an excuse for life – thanks girls!).

But I think it’s mainly due to the button placement and given I currently have a temporary stitched in button in there, I suspect it will resolve anyway when I get myself a proper jeans button to hammer into place. I’ll move it a little further along the waistband and I suspect this issue will go away.

The back pocket is puckering slightly as well. Just a subtle horizontal fold that is sometimes there on each side, sometimes not. To be honest I think this is just the softness and slightly pre-shaped pre-lounged bumminess of of my pre-loved velvet. I doubt I’d see this at all if I was working with new fabric, especially denim.

I’m not worried about it and am actually really happy with the fit of these jeans. They are high cut, buttoning up right across my belly button and staying snug and in place without being at all uncomfortable.

It was easy to fit them during the sewing process. This is because you make the back section, pockets and all, and sew the 2 back pieces together. Then you make the front section, fly and all. Then, lastly, you sew up the inner and outer leg seams. I wish I’d taken photos of this all happening, but you get the idea.

It is very easy at that final stage to adjust the outer leg seam to fit your curves nicely, and voila! Perfect fitting jeans. What a rarity! What a revelation! What common sense!

The shirt I’m wearing is yet another Pauline Alice Carme blouse without the collar and tucks. I’ve lost count how many of these I’ve made now. 8? 10? Some blogged previously, some not. Crazy but they’re so good and so easy to make. I wear them all.

This fabric came from Spotlight, from among their Japanese cottons. As with so many Spotlight fabrics, they look great but the fabric quality is moderate at best. I’m still wearing this shirt constantly, because I’m loving the colour and print.

So that’s all for today. A new shirt and some lovely rescued blue velvet which will now have a new life and much more wear.

It’s also got me thinking. Hmm, I have some overly baggy linen pants in my cupboard from last year as well. I wonder if there’s enough there to turn those into some True Bias Emersons instead… My previous Emersons are so nice…


3 Comments Add yours

  1. I have never thought of using velvet for pants! AMAZING! I love them!


    1. Velvet is so great for pants. Just need to find a nice stable stretch velvet. But honestly, velvet pants are so great to wear you should try it!

      Liked by 1 person

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