Maybe it’s the unusually cool weather we’ve had lately, but my lust for pants has returned. A week or so ago I started hearing a niggling voice in the back of my head. It was telling me, “Pssst… remember those red cigarette pants you abandoned last spring? Butterick B5895? Maybe you should try them on.”
Against what I thought was my better judgment at the time, I went to my Sewing Corner of Shame (where I put failed projects—happily there’s not too many things in the corner) and pulled out the crushed and rumpled ball of red pants. Maybe my mindset had changed, although I was pretty sure I’d still dislike them on me.
But you know what? I didn’t hate them. I couldn’t believe it, but I actually kind of liked them! And I didn’t have much left to finish. I basted in a zipper to see if they’d close up, and they were fine. So I ripped it out, inserted one for real, sewed the waistband and hemmed them. I put on a peasant blouse, took a few quickie photos, and then?
Then, I ate my words.
trousers: made by me
peasant blouse: vintage
shoes: Fiebinger Greenfly
I don’t hate them! And after wearing them around awhile, I don’t even feel awkward in them any longer. So contrary to how they made me feel before, I actually really kind of like them now!
They’re not perfect, but the style has grown on me, and that’s important. It means the Spring/Fall love affair I always have with cigarette pants (on other people, to date) can finally take flight!
To recap, the first ones were made in a stretch cotton twill. I like that they’re not skin tight, because that’s just not me.
Since finishing the red pair, I’ve done at least 4 muslins (frankly I’ve lost count) to try and get the fit right with non-stretch fabric, which has been a hell of a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! I want to be able to sit, breath, move and bend comfortably… all of which are not things this style of pants is known for, especially in a fabric with no stretch content.
First they were too tight overall, but the legs were almost the slim look I wanted. Then they were too loose overall. Then they were better at the waist but still looser in the legs than I wanted. And all the while I’ve been trying to find the balance between too much fabric bunching under my butt and being able to actually bend and sit. I finally settled on dealing with some bagginess, because when I pinned it out to be the look I wanted, it felt bad. It’s a fine line.
And now, you get to see pair #3 (#2 is some forest green corduroy, they’ll eventually make it to the blog). It used the pattern pieces from my most successful muslin. It’s basically a size 12 with 1″ taken out of the waist (next time I need even another 1″ taken out), plus Sandra Betzina’s flat butt adjustment, no slash pockets, 3 3/4″ added to the length so they’d hit at my ankle, and the zipper moved to the side because it’s easier for me to close. I’m taking Sandra’s Craftsy class Pants Fitting Techniques where she discusses pooling under the butt due to a flat seat, and you basically take a wedge out from under the crotch seam on the back piece and a little off the inseam. (Worth noting it worked better for me than Ann Rowley’s version, which either didn’t reduce the bunching or made it worse, I can’t really decide.)
This pair is far from perfect. But I’m mighty pleased with them!
The fabric is a wool-blend navy gabardine from my stash. I took a tip from Lauren and pre-washed and machine dried the fabric because dry cleaning is not in my vocabulary.
Here’s the back view. You can see that it’s not all nice and neat under the seat (har har). But you know what? When I managed to pin that excess out, I could barely walk up the basement steps! It’s that fine line between fitting and overfitting. Something I’ve researched a lot lately!
(p.s. I swear the drag lines on my hips aren’t there in real life, even though I look to be standing normally in the below picture so I’m not sure.)
I’m still hoping I can find a slightly better balance over time, but let’s face it. They’re pants, and if I’m going to wear them and have any hopes of being comfortable with a free range of movement, I can only take in the fit so far. And these are already teetering on that edge of comfortable, so I don’t want to push it.
Same with the slim legs, too. With no stretch content, anything narrower and it just wasn’t comfortable! So I’ll save the slimmer legs for when I sew them up in something stretchy. Although these were taken in about 1″ total from the knees down (1/4″ from each seam).
But hey on the plus side, I think the front crotch is damn near perfect. Yeah, I just used perfect and crotch in the same sentence. Sewing is weird.
Oh by the way, I also whipped up this blouse to wear with the pants! It’s my hacked Sewaholic Alma pattern (kimono sleeves foreeeever). The fabric is a Japanese cotton from Lecien, one of my favorite fabric manufacturers. It’s lighter weight than a quilting cotton with a crisp hand. It’s not described as a voile, but it’s very similar. I’m on a serious polka dot kick right now!
I slip stitched the sleeve hems and under stitched the neckline for a clean look. I love the pale aqua blue mixed with chartreuse polka dots. Kind of an unusual color palette, but it combines two of my favorite colors so it had to be mine!
One thing I’ve noticed with these pants is that they’re slim-fitting, but as soon as I start moving around I swear they look baggy in places they really aren’t. Or maybe they are. Goodness knows, you can really start to analyze sewing and fitting to death, especially with pants.
Oh pants, you’re so wonderful yet annoying at the same time.
Anyway, I’m enjoying the fact that I’m finally wearing this style and not feeling like I’m wearing someone else’s clothing! So yes, color me happy to eat my own words.
It’s going to be fun finding ways to style this type of trouser, and more stretch and non-stretch versions will be in my future for sure. It’s not fall yet, but I’m envisioning the cooler months to be full of dresses with tights or leggings, and blouses with cigarette pants. And naturally, all with a variety of cardigans. Oooh oooh, and the green corduroy version you haven’t seen yet would be perfect with one of my vintage Mexican tourist jackets!
It’s still August, but dare I say I’m looking forward to it?
trousers: made by me
blouse: made by me
Bakelite bangle: Brighter Bakelite
I think cigarette pants and I will learn to get along just fine. FINALLY!