Pants progress

My last post dealt with shoulder fit, but I’d like to take a detour to Pants Land (or Trouser Town, if you’re British?)

Last year I made my first two pairs of jeans. The first one was the best-fitting pair of jeans I’d ever worn, and an undefinable and wonderful (to me) style: fitted but not tight, tapered but not skin-tight, ankle-length. They bagged out a little bit with wear, however, especially after I put them on damp.

crabandbee.com | jeans
The original fit

On the second pair, I got overzealous and took 1/4″ out of the out-seams and tightened up the waistband. They looked good but, creature of comfort that I am, I really didn’t want to put them on. They stayed a dark indigo blue while the first pair earned that oh-so-delightful fading.

Over the year, the first pair started to feel more like the tight pair. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought it, too – I was outgrowing my jeans. Then I held up the first pair to the tight pair, and they were the same size! The denim had shrunk with washings and (very occasional) dryings.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 1367
The shrunken fit

Both pairs were lovingly folded up and given to my sister, who they fit as originally intended.

After giving the jeans away and a full Marie Kondo wardrobe sort, I was left with two pairs of everyday pants – a lackluster pair of thrifted jeans and my khaki pleated trousers. Right around this time, I’d been casting about for a project after finishing my coat but nothing sounded like fun until the idea of revisiting my jeans pattern occurred to me.

I may have called that pattern “self-drafted” at the time I wrote that post, but “self-cobbled” is more accurate. Now that I’m older and wiser/have read more Helen Joseph-Armstrong, I know that converting a pleated trouser pattern into jeans was nothing short of major pattern surgery! According to HJ-A, jeans have a higher back rise and lower front rise, which I did not take into account in my first two pairs. In fact, I’d reduced the back rise for the trousers. Add my ample rump into the mix and there’s just too much booty.

For this iteration, I added a full inch to the back rise, grading to nothing all the way to center front. I also added 1/4″ of ease to the front and back outseams to guard against future denim shrinking, which can apparently happen over the course of many washings. (I did wash and dry my denim twice this time but who knows if it was enough! I used the leftovers from my other two pairs so I’m suspicious that it’s waiting to do me an ill turn.)

Anyway. I love them.

crabandbee.com | jeans

crabandbee.com | jeans

I was inspired by Heather Lou’s Ginger sewalong to use pocket stays, which are amazing because of the extra room for my hands and the cozy stability across the entire front.

crabandbee.com | jeans detail

I was bolstered up by my success, enough to do some more pattern cobbling, and made a pair of stretch-denim flares with back darts instead of a yoke. I added 4″ length and about 4″ of flare on both sides of the legs.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Flares. Flares! Why did I ever stop wearing this wonderful silhouette?

I changed the pockets to a slant instead of jeans-style pockets.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

And I got terribly lazy and left off back pockets (which are universally credited for “breaking up the expanse” of rump.) I had every intention of making some nice welt pockets, but my fabric was quite thin and I thought the visible outline of pocket bags might be equally distracting. I may still add some sort of classy patch pocket, if such a thing is possible on pants. There is some wrinkling on the back, but it may just be from sitting? I don’t know. This fabric is probably best suited to dresses and the like.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

I would love to try my new flares pattern in another thicker fabric, possibly as jeans with a yoke. As-is, they have filled a wardrobe gap for me, which is nicer work wear (with a longer top, of course). I’d add another inch of length, too.

crabandbee.com | flared denim trousers

Hope you enjoyed this detour to Trouser Town! They’ve been a nice simpler sew while I muddle over the fit and design of my sister’s wedding dress… I’m documenting the process but I can’t decide whether to post as I go or plan to summarize at the end, in case it all goes to $hit and we have to buy a dress!

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77 thoughts on “Pants progress

    1. I don’t know! Maybe it became synonymous with the super low rise in the late 90’s/early aughts? I think I’ve seen it coming back, though, with a more reasonable rise!

      1. I didn’t stop wearing it – in fact, my very favourite navy cord flares from about 1998 have just recently gone through at the knee and I’ve been thinking about dealing with trouser fit so I can make a replacement pair. The shape looks fantastic on you (as does the colour of the Swiss dot shirt, btw)! And the top-stitching on the jeans, wow.

  1. Your jeans pattern fits BEAUTIFULLY. I hope I’m able to fit pants as expertly someday. I’m too short for flares. But, I really want to revisit wide leg trousers/palazzo pants. I miss them. 😀

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I must say I do not feel like an expert at all – just someone chipped away it it for a long time and got lucky. I’m afraid to try a new pattern for fear I won’t know how to adjust it as nicely as these!

  2. I didn’t know that jeans were cut differently than normal pants! Good to know! I think you’re really ambitious for making your own jeans–those are something I’m pretty content to buy. But you look so great in yours I might have to give it a try 😉

    1. Thanks! I did surprise myself by using my jeans back pockets this weekend, but I doubt I would ever use them for the trousers! They would have been for aesthetic reasons only.

  3. I love both of these – they are fantastic!! The flared pair with the darts are so cool! I want to copy them ASAP! I have found with my Gingers that the denim seems to keep shrinking over time. I always prewash my fabric, and gasp! dry it in the dryer, but for some reason it still keeps changing with time. Maybe one day I’ll learn to skip the dryer.

    1. Yes, I’m trying to skip the dryer this time! I actually like air-drying most of my laundry because I think it extends a garment’s life as well as preventing the unwanted shrinkage!

  4. You are going to convince a lot of people to sew flares with your pants! I think the butt looks great as is! It’s very hourglass-sexy, which seems right for 70’s styling. Oh, and the top-stitching on the jeans pair? Swoon. 🙂

  5. These both look fabulous! Bummer that your earlier jeans kept shrinking – but nice that your sister can benefit. Love the slant pockets, too, they really suit the flared style.

  6. Nice pants! I’m about to tackle jeans but am filled with what-if-they-suck emotions. I should take a leaf out of your book and dive right in.

    1. It took me a long time to get up the nerve but I think they’re really worth trying! My only suggestion would be to check the fit (if you’re using a new pattern) before you do all those jeans-y type embellishments – topstitching, pocket placement, etc. I even cut the front legs out as if they had no front pockets so I could check the fit. It’s a lot harder to make changes once everything is topstitched!

  7. Gah! Morgan, you are the cleverest of the clever! These are both utterly fabulous. Seriously, how do you do it? I really have to see what those pockets stays are that everyone is raving about. I do have the Ginger jeans pattern so I’m guessing that will answer my question 🙂 And I like the flares without back pockets, I think it could all get a bit busy back there given the more “trouser” look 🙂

  8. Hullo flares of wonder! These are spectacular- gotta love the slash pockets too 😀 Side note- glad I am not the only one with some gaping wardrobe holes after the wonder of Marie Kondo’s book!

  9. Groovy! I wouldn’t mess with the back of your flares. Your rump can take pocketless! Both jeans look to be an excellent fit. And I love the way jeans for you are now a relatively simple sew! You’ve come a long way with your sewing, since I first found your blog.

  10. I don’t think you need to worry about shoulder fitting because nobody is going to look past those jeans!! They are awesome.

    I am trying to clean out my wardrobe and wondering about flares…they were my favourite style a few years back but now nobody seems to wear them. I’m not good at cleaning out the closet so I think I will hang onto them.

    I have heard of people washing their denim 3 times before sewing up.

    1. Hahaha, thanks! Now that is one shoulder fitting technique nobody mentioned… 😉 I’m not sure if flares are out, making a come-back, or are already on their way out again but they’re looking mighty good to me!

  11. Ohlala! I don’t even know which pair I like better: they both look super comfortable. Comfort is the keyword for me when it comes to clothes: in this sense I am same as you and I would never wear anything which restricts my movements and body freedom.

  12. Oh sweet!! Love both pairs, but I’m particularly smitten with those flares! I’ve been thinking about hacking some wider-hemmed jeans. I mean, I think skinnies will always be my first love, but it’s nice to have some versatility. And I love them with your SHOES! Ha. Couldn’t let a post go by without gushing over your shoes. Anyway, awesome changes – and I love that you’re just hacking your way closer and closer to your TNT pattern. That’s the way to do it!!

    1. It is so very heartening to get closer to the right fit – there was awhile where I was sure I was just altering my way to the weirdest pants ever. (And thanks for being a shoe fan!)

  13. Pants are something I need to try tackling soon. Thanks for the motivation 🙂 They both look awesome, though I’m not quite back on the flares train yet… too many high school flashbacks! But yes, they do look pretty great.

  14. well all that fit stuff went totally over my head but the end results are brilliant! Both pairs look fab on, and the flares also made me wonder why I stopped wearing that shape! Good luck with the wedding dress!

    1. Haha! The gist of it is that the butt of my pants was too short and then they shrank! We sewing folk sure can make things sound complicated, can’t we? (Or maybe it’s just me…!) Thanks so much, Kathryn 🙂

  15. These all look great! I am so torn about sewing pants. I can grab a pair from the thrift store for under $5 and alter them to fit, but seeing these makes me want to sew my own!

  16. These have such a perfect fit!! Wow, I am incredibly impressed. Oh yeah, that flare shape is great. (btw, I once made a trouser-style denim shorts for my daughter… for back pockets I did a patch pocket with the bottom corners rounded. A little dressier than the traditional jeans pocket if you were inclined to add them.) I’ve been contemplating how I need to adjust my own jeans pattern lately, and hope to get on it soon. Yours are so inspiring!

    1. I’d be curious to hear what you learned from wearing your jeans! And thanks! It was really nice to be able to identify the fit problem and, miraculously, work.

      I do think some sort of alternative patch pocket might be nice! Did you blog about the trouser shorts? I’d love to see how the rounded pocket style turned out.

  17. You are such a tenacious fitter! I really respect that. I’ve had that crazy shrinking thing happen with denim, too, even RTW. I hem things quite long and usually after a while they’ve shrunk to the right length! I always thought it was due to the insanely hot and old dryers at my laundromat, but maybe it’s a universal problem.

    I like your pants without the pockets! Or maybe a pocket with a flap would be fun? I’m one of the rare women that uses their back pockets- I keep my phone in the right and when I’m on set, my wallet in the left. But I admire women that don’t have bulging pockets- your pants stay in much better shape for way longer!

    1. Thanks, Sonja! I think I like fitting because you can gradually work on it as your awareness of it grows. (And, I’m a comfort fanatic!)

      Funnily enough, I did use my back pockets last weekend! This ol’ lady went to a club for the first time in like, 5 years, and didn’t want to carry a purse.

  18. This makes me want to make pants SO BAD!!! I’m only 5’4″ so my jeans usually start too long and a little shrinkage is welcome, but even so I’ll definitely be washing/drying the denim I have waiting for me to work up the courage to make my own jeans a couple times before taking the plunge. Love the flared version you made and really love your tattoo, too! 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Kristin! You did such a nice job topstitching on your Archer – I’ll bet sewing jeans will be a snap for you. And thanks for your compliment on my tattoo 🙂

  19. I have a totally random question for you. I love two of your tops and am wondering if you made or purchased them? I’m curious about the tri-color linen-look in the second photo and the splatter tee shown in the 6th (and later) photos paired with your flares. I need more tops!

  20. Ah, flares!! I want a pair. I was just lamenting to a friend how I miss my flares from my college days. Sadly, you can’t find them in rtw now. Everything is skinny…. Love them!

  21. Good job! Love both pairs – and think that a pocketless behind is a good look on flares with slant pockets – very nice. You have probably started a trend right here with your flares, you know. 🙂

  22. I love your posts, because you give so much great information. Thanks for the trip to Pants Land! Love both of these!

    Oh, and thank you too for confirming that it’s my jeans which keep shrinking over time. I’ve been experiencing this, but sort of thought it was in my head!

    1. Thanks, Gail! My brain is constantly thinking through sewing info, so it’s nice to have an outlet for sharing. No, the jeans shrinkage not in your head. Wish I’d known earlier, but I’m glad my sister has benefitted!

  23. That new straight leg pair is creating some serious pant envy- they easily look like $300 jeans! Can I ask for more details on the denim? I’ve been scheming to buy a ticket to Pants Land too, but am always derailed by stories of terrible denim and eventual dissatisfaction- keep up updated!

    1. The denim was a major second-hand find at Scrap PDX, but I would say it’s probably a mid-weight denim with 2% lycra? It’s lasted me through my first three pairs of jeans and I haven’t really had to work with much else! I think I prefer mid to heavier weight denim, with or without a bit of stretch.

  24. Ack, I can’t believe the denim shrunk that much over time! I guess you never know (but who wants to pre-wash that much?). Isn’t it great to finally get your fit down? I got my jeans pattern down last year and I am so happy. I just need to get cracking and make some more!

    1. I was shocked! I really thought that one pre-wash was a magic bullet. It is really nice – now I feel like I can focus on really minor fit stuff and design variations!

    1. Gosh, I don’t know! I did suddenly see all of your 2015 posts at once – maybe there was some divine interference keeping us apart? Or… I confuse myself by using both Bloglovin’ and Feedly and Bloglovin’ does indeed suck…

  25. Great job! The fit on your new jeans is spectacular. I have had zero luck sewing pants for myself and am now paralyzed with fear to try again.

    1. Pants do seem to require a lot of investment when it comes to fit. Hopefully you try again! Was the fitting process the sticking point?

  26. These pants look so great on you.. You are inspiring me to sew some pants for myself! ❤

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