One of my Make Nine 2018 commitments is that I will learn to sew pants. Pants that fit me well.
And what better pattern to start with than the magnificent Lander pants from True Bias?
I’ve never worn pants or jeans much – my wardrobe has been full of skirts for as long as I can remember. I used to think it was because I didn’t like the look of myself in pants, but I’ve come to realise that if I get a pair that fits me well, I do actually wear them. It’s very rare, however, to get a pair of pants to fit me well.
Enter sewing. It should be achievable, right? So, I listened to this Love to Sew podcast with Heather Lou from Closet Case Patterns and this Love to Sew podcast with Kelli Ward from True Bias and then I got to cutting.
I made two pairs, one after the other. Here’s how they came out.
Take one: Size 12 denim landers
I made the denim pair first, and I love them! I have worn them every day since. That’s why they look so rumpled in these pics.
I followed the pack by cutting out the size 12, which corresponded to my measurements and the size chart that comes with the pattern.
I knew that my denim was stretchy, but also relatively crisp with no real drape to speak of. But even so I was quite surprised at how big they were when I first sewed up the side seam at the 1 inch seam allowance. I brought them in 3 times before getting to the fit you see.
After wearing (as pictured), you can see they are still quite roomy. But even so, these look and feel better on than any of my other jeans (which isn’t saying a lot, to be honest, as my other jeans are pretty awful. But still I’m pretty happy with how these look).
Here are close-ups of the critical bits. Shield your eyes if you’re shy!
This denim just keeps growing as you wear it and while these pants look just like the pack when they first go on in the mornings, they are at least a size larger after a few hours of wearing and moving. Which makes for some very comfy pants indeed!
Now, I obviously have a bit of a pot belly, and I’m also quite short. So it’s not surprising that the fit isn’t perfect straight out of the pack. I did shorten these by 2 inches at the hem, and reduced the width of the waistband by half an inch before assembling as well, as I could see they were already quite high. But other than that this is how they came out, in my quite stretchy denim.
Certainly wearable, very roomy really, but these had to be significantly reduced along the side seams to make it all work. That’s why the pockets all sit so far out towards the side seams.
Take 2: Size 10 purple Landers with a few size and style adjustments
After wearing the denim Landers for a few days I decided on a few adjustments before making the second pair. Size down to a size 10, do a half inch flat seat adjustment, and reduce the rise by half an inch. And here is the result.
I changed a few others things as well. I did internal pockets (see the True Bias post here on how to do that), used the zipper expansion pack, and put welt pockets on the back using the pieces from my as-yet-unmade Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers pattern.
The fabric itself is lovely, but quite different to the denim. It has only the tiniest amount of stretch, but does drape quite heavily. So, not a direct comparison.
And this difference came home to me pretty suddenly when I first went to try this pair on. I stitched it to the 1 inch side seam allowance, and I couldn’t even do them up. Waaaaaay too small!
I quickly let out the side seams as far as practical, and that gives you what you see here. A pair of pants that are a bit too snug for the fabric chosen.
I still quite like them, but won’t be wearing them with any cropped shirts that’s for sure. The side pockets are pulling a bit too much for that, which shines a bright shiny light on my pot belly. Not a good look.
I’m happy with the slight reduction in the rise though, and the fit across my non-existent butt is definitely better.
They’re just a bit tight, particularly where that pocket meets the size seam. Pity.
Even so, they’re very comfy and do all the things a good pair of pants needs to do.
Including mucking about with Le Pooch, who was more than happy to help with the photographing this morning. Everything is better with a pooch, don’t you think?
Stop press – how things changed after a day of wear
Whoa, whoa hang on! My purple landers are sitting much more nicely after a day of wear. I think the fabric just needed to relax into shape.
Check them out – I’m actually thrilled with them now!
I moved the button on the waistband to make them a little looser at that point – by about 1cm. And the fit, after a day, is as close to perfection as I can imagine to be honest. I love how they’re hanging and while I’d love to make some body-shape adjustments (sigh), I think these pants are a really great fit and style for me. In this fabric.
Wow – what a difference! and I’m loving the colour.
Here are a few direct comparison shots so you can see them side by side. (Now altered so I’m showing the ‘day after’, more relaxed purple pants not the original tight purple fit.)
So, what have I learnt for next time?
Here’s my summary:
- I like both pairs, now. equally I think now that the purple pair have relaxed a little.
- I interfaced the purple waistband (full width), but not the denim waistband (which was cut on the cross, and reduced in width by half an inch). I actually prefer the denim waistband width, and could probably do without the half inch reduction in rise I did on my purple pair.
- The inside pocket modification worked well, but I think the welt pockets were less successful. They are too low for my body shape (and lack of butt). If I do them again, they should be higher, which means reducing the dart length by half so it doesn’t poke out beyond the welt into the pocket itself. And perhaps only do the one pocket – on the right leg – and increase the depth of the pocket bag a little while I’m at it. (Or, stuff it, just do a nice patch pocket – depends on fabric choice really.)
- I can go down to a size 10 for stretchy fabric, and this includes any fabric that will relax after wear as it turns out. I would only need the size 12 for fabrics that don’t relax at all with wear. But perhaps would use the size 12 (with a flat seat adjustment) if I was wanting a particularly loose pair. That’s at my current measurements. But the principle remains the same at any size.
- The half inch reduction in rise is perhaps unnecessary. Perhaps do it if I’m using a stretchy fabric in future, but not really necessary for a fabric with no give. (But if I don’t do that, I may want to reduce the waistband width by half an inch. Either one or the other.)
- The 2 inch reduction in overall length is perfect and hemming depth will depend on fabric. I hemmed both of these the same but the purple pair is definitely longer and will need rehemming after the first wash. I took the purple pair up to a 3 inch hem after the original pics and this was great.
- The flat seat adjustment is excellent and a MUST DO!! I did a half inch adjustment here at the crotch point and the centre back, and I should stick with that. Any more would be too much.
- Wearing a small heel vs. a flatter boot makes almost no difference to how I look in pants. Certainly not enough to put up with the back pain I get from heels.
- The fabric allowance in the pattern was spot on for size 12 but a bit overallocated for the size 10, as with my flat seat adjustment I can fit the two leg pieces side by side. 2m of fabric is enough for a size 10 for me, including this adjustment. Yippee! because: cheaper.
Was it worthwhile?
Yes! That was all so useful and interesting and I learnt quite a lot.
I’m feeling far more confident with making pants after these two. I won’t need any more for a while, but don’t you think some looser dark blue silk velvet pants would be great??!! I have some lurking in my stash…
I think silk velvet would need more volume in the leg. Here’s a pic of McCalls 7445 for inspiration. Very similar, but a bit wider and a few other differences. Coming soon?