purple trousers

First, some background. One very significant gap in my wardrobe is trousers/pants*, especially of the work-appropriate variety.** Nothing in the stores ever fits, blah, blah, blah.

I thought I should begin at the beginning, so I bought the Vogue fitting shell (Vogue 1003) and got some professional help with the actual fitting.

I figured that I could use the modified pattern for basic trousers as well as using it for its intended purpose of working out the changes to make to the regular (i.e. stylish) patterns (as compared to the unstylish fitting shell).

The pattern

I was surprised to find that the pattern was kinda short on me: with my inseam being about 28″, this does not happen. This pattern is supposed to be essentially the body block or sloper that all other patterns are based on. I can’t see how that could be true when this one is short and all others are always way too long. Oh well, even if this isn’t the key to the puzzle of all other Vogue patterns, I still have a trouser pattern that (more or less) works, which was the main goal.

I also found it too roomy in the seat and thighs (even though this is where pants are usually too small) and the ankle was way too narrow. I suppose I was warned by the description: semi-fitted, tapered pants. I tried to correct these problems in the first muslin, but they continued to dog me at least to some extent, especially in my first try at a wearable garment, which is wearable but a solid ‘meh’.

This pair of trousers is thus my second try. (It took a while to work up the nerve and cautious optimism to try again.) I was assuming that my pattern had the bugs worked out in the original fitting, and I put the major problems of the first pair down to poor choice of fabric. My muslin had been a medium weight cotton twill, while the first pair was a light cotton-linen blend. I decided to use some medium-heavy cotton twill from my stash*** and hoped that all would go smoothly from there. Alas.


Despite using the more appropriate fabric, the fit was still big (especially in the waist) and generally sloppy, with the lower legs being proportionately too narrow.

quite baggy on the first try

I won’t bore you with all the details of the various tweaks I tried, but here’s an overview:

  • darts: no change
  • CB: took in at the waist, but changed my mind later and returned it to the original seam line
  • CF: no change
  • inseams: reduced by about 3/8″ (starting from nothing about 1″ from the crotch seam, getting to the full 3/8″ after about 5½”)
  • side seams: saw almost all the action; ultimately took in about 6/8″ at the waist, a little less than 3/8″ at the hip, a little less than 5/8″ at the knee, and 3/8″ at the ankle

Note that the measurements above are per SA. That means that the total reduction in e.g. waist circumference was 3″! The shaping I put into the side seam snugged it in at the waist, stopped it being sloppy at the hip without taking out much of the room there, made the thighs slim without being tight, and made the lower legs quite straight. This ate up most of the spool of thread I bought especially for this project!

The finished project is fitted, but hopefully not overfitted. I ended up with the following amounts of ease: waist about 1¼”; hips about 2½”; thigh about 1½”; and the ankle measures 16″ in circumference.


The pattern waistband is cut as a rectangle, which doesn’t work at all for me because my waist is higher at the back, and there just isn’t that much vertical room in that area. I had made a waistband/belt pattern a while ago and thought I’d give that a try as a pattern for a contour waistband. It worked surprisingly well! I sewed the 2 waistband pieces (inside and outside) together, then attached the outside to the trousers. The inside I finished with some pretty bias tape I’d made before for a different project and then never used. Then I stitched-in-the-ditch from the front to attach the inside waistband

I always wear a belt, so I needed belt loops. The machine couldn’t get through all the layers of fabric on the bottom of the loops, so those are handstitched. However, after I attached them, I realised the I could probably just fold the inside waistband SA up and out of the way. I probably will try this… at some point.

Here’s a problem I didn’t anticipate: because of the difference in waist and  hip measurements and the shortness of the zipper, I can barely get the trousers on. This has never been a problem with ready-to-wear – presumably because it doesn’t fit me properly! I’m going to have to figure out how to put the zipper in even lower than I did.


I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, even if I’m not too impressed with how much work it took. I think I learned a fair amount on this project, and hopefully some of the mistakes I made won’t need to be repeated. I’ll make up this pattern again, but not right away, and not in anything expensive – or with pockets – until I have more of the bugs worked out.


* I briefly lived in England a few years back and still can’t say “pants” unselfconsciously.

** The trousers I wear are usually non-work-appropriate: there are perks to being self-employed.

*** The fabric was nice enough that I’d wear the trousers if they worked, but an odd enough colour that I wouldn’t be too busted up if they didn’t.

2 thoughts on “purple trousers

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