Triumphant return of cigarette pants (or, how I ate my words)

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.

red cigarette pants, Butterick B5895

outfit details

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!

red cigarette pants, Butterick B5895

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!

Triumphant return of cigarette pants

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.

Triumphant return of cigarette pants

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.)

cig-pants-back

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.

cig-pants-back2

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.

Triumphant return of cigarette pants

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!

Sewaholic Alma

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!

Sewaholic Alma hacked

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.

Triumphant return of cigarette pants

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?

Triumphant return of cigarette pants

outfit details

trousers: made by me
blouse: made by me
Bakelite bangle: Brighter Bakelite
shoes: Worishofer

I think cigarette pants and I will learn to get along just fine. FINALLY!

 

Filed: Sewing, Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , , , ,

Golly, 48 Comments!

  • Triumph! They are adorable, and you are certainly recalling quite a Betty Bacall-ish vibe.

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  • And also? It’s great to see those Worishofer sandals on someone’s foot! Super cute.

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  • They look super cute, and good on you for getting a great fit on them!

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  • Well done! I actually thought your blouse was a Gertie portrait blouse–I hacked mine and it looks very similar to this one when finished. I’ve been cranking them out like crazy. I love that print, and you put me on to Japanese cotton (so lovely!!)

    I really like the navy blue version–so lovely! Gives me hope of finding the right fit for myself on that pattern.

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    • Thanks! Yes, it’s definitely a similar look so I can see why you’d think it was a portrait blouse! I still feel like I have a long way to go to get the right fit for these pants, but at least they’re wearable enough that for each future version I can tweak a bit until I’m closer, and still find them good enough to wear in the meantime. :)

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  • It is all a matter of perspective really :) They look great, and I am glad you are finally enjoying them! (I wear the heck out of my two, even with their imperfect fits ;) ).

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    • Thanks, Rachel! I know I’ll wear them a lot. Well actually I’ll probably wear the cord version I didn’t show more, since these were made mainly for work and I mostly work from home. But the fit, while not perfect, is pleasing enough I can crank out more. :)

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  • These look great on you and I love your shoes in both photos!

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  • Ah yes pants, you sed it. Wonderful and annoying but yours are fantastic! ;)

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  • Glad to hear these pants have finally made the cut! And the dark pair look great. Your hair is gorgeous in that colour and style, too. So, three wins in one post – nice!

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  • Great trousers! I have this pattern and have made some capri pants in stretch denim. I too thought about making a longer version. Yours are an inspiration!

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    • Thanks! And on the flip side, I’d like to sometime make some shorter ones, too! And I’ll probably make some a bit longer still for when my ankles get cold. lol

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  • Hi Tasha! These are really cute pants!
    I noticed that you commented on the baggyness ‘under your seat’. I just had similar fitting issues with Gerties Butterick 5895 (I actually have these wrinkles in most RTW pants, hate wearing trousers!) and consulted ‘Pants for real people’.
    They recommend to pull up the center back until wrinkles disappear. If the pants become to tight in the back crotch, add length to it by deepening or lowering the back crotch curve you .
    This worked for me.

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  • Hi Tasha! These are really cute pants!
    I noticed that you commented on the baggyness ‘under your seat’. I just had similar fitting issues with Gerties Butterick 5895 (I actually have these wrinkles in most RTW pants, hate wearing trousers!) and consulted ‘Pants for real people’.
    They recommend to pull up the center back until wrinkles disappear. If the pants become to tight in the back crotch, add length to it by deepening or lowering the back crotch curve.
    This worked for me.

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    • Thanks! I actually got that book recently and read the same comment about adjusting. It’s one thing I haven’t tried yet, and I don’t really find their instructions to be that clear, frankly. Although I suppose if I read all of the previous parts that don’t apply fit-wise it may give me more clues as to how they mean for you to do it.

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  • Glad you like these because I think they look amazing!

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  • I love these pants so much! So glad you went back to your red pair because they look great. Funny how those things happen huh? I need to do that with a few of my wadders.

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  • Brittany_VaVoomVintage August 14, 2014 at 8:01am

    I love these on you!! I hope to tackle some cigarette pants this winter but I’ve been dreading it!

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    • Thanks! Yeah, it’s no small feat as you can see from my experience! And I don’t even think I’m nearly done in the long-term. But at least I’m happy enough with this fit that I could make more pair and be happy with them, while I iron out some other details when I feel like it. ;)

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  • Really cute! The fit is great. If you look at pictures of real people wearing these way back when (i.e. Lee Remick in Anatomy of a murder) that’s exactly how they fit. I have one pair in a stretch denim that I made super tight so they look AMAZING but are not the most practical things ever. My second pair is a much more wearable fit, like this pair, and I love them for everyday wear in the cool weather.

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    • Thanks Evie! I went to look up photos from the movie and hilariously, most of them are her sitting on a sofa. lol It’s interesting how there’s a definite line between what looks better and what works better or feels better. It’s hard to figure out where you want to straddle that line…!!

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  • These turned out just great! Funny how that stretch, no-stretch thing can cause such a problem with pant fitting, huh? I had the same thing happen with the 2 pairs I’ve sewn. It took me by surprise!

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    • Thanks, Lauren! Boy, I guess about the stretch and no-stretch. I have a lot of kinks to work out still with these, but I’ve past the point of “this muslin looks terrible” so at least in the meantime, hopefully my little tweaks will result in wearable happy pants. ;)

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  • Yay! Your pants look great, Tasha.

    Every fall I get the itch to sew up some pants too. I’m not quite yet but I’m getting there. I have yet to perfect the fit, but with every fall season I feel like I get one step closer towards a perfect fit. Perhaps this year will be my year. :D

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    • Thanks, Liz! I hope this is your fall to perfect it, too! I know you are well aware of the woes of fitting issues under the butt. One of your posts reminded me about the Ann Rowley technique, which sadly didn’t help me… though maybe I need to try a deeper version! I feel like I’ve worked on this so much I may never get it right, but at least I’m pretty happy with this in the meantime and can continue to make further pairs without feeling like they look awful. lol And of course, probably continuing to tweak things along the way…!

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  • I used that pattern once and they where so big in the bottom half of the legs. I took them 11-12 inches in . Maybe i have a weird shape because yours look fab!

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  • Hurrah!! I think they look terrific! You can’t beat a good pair of cigarette pants. I have that Gertie pattern to and am now tempted to try them in a black stretch twill. Looking forward to seeing the cord version.

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  • Oh, I know about the troubles of fitting trousers like these… Especially in fabrics without stretch. I had quite a struggle with that myself and I think I could start over again if I decide I want a pair of cigarette trousers this autumn.
    I think you did a great job though. Pair nr.3 looks very good indeed. In my experience, it is impossible to eliminate all the pooling below the seat and be able to move at the same time, so this is about as good as it gets.

    Hm… Now I kind of want to try this style again…

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  • I tend to go for the fuller leg styles at the moment, I might have to try cigarette pants for summer though. I think it’s time to go through my Burda patterns again.

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  • As I said to Sara Wood (from Lilies and Remains) a few weeks ago, I think there’s something in the water this summer because it seems like a lot of us vintage ladies are suddenly rekindling (or developing for the first time) a passion for pants all of a sudden, myself included. Whereas these cigarette pairs look sensational on you, slender pants don’t do my figure a lick of good, so I opt for wider legged styles instead and daydream about having the gams to pull off skinnier styles like you’re doing so (seriously!) awesomely here.

    ♥ Jessica

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  • I am really enjoying your blog. The pants look great, and you don’t look like you need a flat butt adjustment! Was wondering if you might consider mentioning lipstick and nail colors in your posts. I really like your lipstick here. Thanks for noting your shoes, etc. I am learning about different shoe brands from you. Also I love your clog collection, was wondering how sizing compares between Sven and Hasbeens if you’d care to comment.

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  • I’m so glad you decided to finish the red cigarette pants! I remember when you first showed them on your blog and thinking it was too bad you didn’t like them on yourself. I think you look super chic!

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  • Those do look fabulous on you. I do the same thing – I live in skirt most of the time, but sometimes I just get this irresistable hankering for a great pair of pants. And then I try to find a pair that fits and go right back to skirts, because butts. And thighs.
    I love that there’s a standard “flat butt” adjustment. The post was worth reading for that alone.

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  • Fabulous! They look amazing! I really admire your dedication to getting fit right! Making so many muslins you lose count!? My goodness! I need to get better at that. I’m so impatient! You continue to be an inspiration!

    xoxo
    -Janey

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  • I am so glad that you gave the cigarette pants a second shot because they look absolutely phenomenal on you! Also, thank you for posting this because I have been getting used to wearing pants again after wearing only skirts and dresses for the past few years, and it is nice to know that I am not alone in the struggle ;)

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  • I think these look divine on you! Nice job with the fitting, and I agree that overfitting can turn into sausage casing uncomfortable! Those are the perfect amount of fitted and elegant. Inspiring!

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  • Hooray! I too have been pondering cigarette pants (there’s a pattern that shows a quilted pair for lounging about the house in. Quilted! It sounds so cozy!) and yours just look so fabulous… I suppose I should invest in some muslin soon and get on it!

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  • You’re so not alone because I was feeling the exact same way about my Gertie Capris! After trying wide leg pants for several months as an alternative on the extreme opposite, I went and revisited the cigarette pant and I think I’m in love. You have one SERIOUSLY cute outfit here. I’m curious to hear how that fitting class works out for you (I’m adding it to my wishlist!) and I hope my next attempt at slim pants turns out as well as yours. Again, adorable!!

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  • […] what’s next on my sewing list? Pants! After seeing Tasha’s adorable cigarette pants I decided I want some like them. I bought another Kwik Sew pattern for a similar pair that are […]

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  • They look incredible! Shame it took you so long to come to your sense when it comes to pants ;)

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  • […] and re-invigorated my desire for cigarette pants period, so I can credit that for me ever finishing my red ones above in the first place! (And I’d still like to try their pattern, […]

    Reply

  • […] of my Butterick B5895 trousers. Cute retro capris that I turned into cigarette pants of sorts here and here. I originally sewed them in a red stretch twill (a size 8 waist and legs, graded to 10 at […]

    Reply

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