If 2019 was all about dungarees and jumpsuits patterns, then 2020 is the year of elastic waist tapered leg pants. Or trousers for my UK friends. I’ve seen 5+ indie patterns which appear similar (not all released this year), and I bet there are more! But how to choose which one will fit and look the best?
In the interest of a slightly more sustainable wardrobe, I do not need or want to sew that many pairs of pull on linen “sweatpants” and I don’t have time to either. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this camp right? But… there are some things you can check beforehand to assess what is more likely to work out well. Here’s my thought process.
The elastic waist pants (indie) pattern list
- Paper Theory Miller Trousers – front pleat, pockets, 32mm elastic
- Elbe Textiles Fremantle pants – front slash pockets, 50mm elastic
- Fibre Mood Benita (wide leg ones option only, but included as they are fitted at the hip area) – no pockets, 50mm elastic
- Sew House 7 Freerange slacks – front slash pocket, 40mm elastic
- Anna Allen Pomona pants – patch pockets, 50mm elastic
- Seamwork Joss – patch pockets, 25mm elastic
1. Who are the professional pattern makers?
In terms of drafting accuracy, I know for sure Teresa (Fibre Mood), Tara (Paper Theory) and Lauren (Elbe Textiles) are professional pattern makers who worked in fashion. So I would always head for their patterns first, as there are way too many badly drafted patterns out in the wild.
I’d assume that Seamwork is big enough to also hire professionals. Not sure about the credentials of Anna Allen and Sew House 7 – please tell me if you know! I can’t say anything about them seeing as I’ve only ever made the Sew House 7 Burnside Bibs (which was a good experience).
2. How will the pattern look on me?
Firstly it’s useful to look at the flat pattern measurements. Things to remember and check:
Sewing patterns aren’t designed to fit you specifically
Like in ready to wear, patternmakers must start with a body – this is not going to be your body. And we know that each body is different. Even if you grade between the bust / waist / hip sizes, you still might not get the right fit. Sway back, flat seat, full bust, small bust, forward shoulder, narrow back … the list goes on and on.
There’s nothing wrong with your body, and in most cases, nothing wrong with the pattern. Just that you are not the model, so you need to understand what adjustments to make.
Wearing and design ease
For elastic waist pants made in woven fabrics, I’m most concerned about being able to get them over my hips. Standard wearing ease for woven fabrics is 5-7cm for hips. This is the extra room you need on top of your (body) hip measurement to wear things comfortably. Try wrapping a tape measure around your hips (standing up) then sit down. You’ll see that you expand a few cm and that’s your wearing ease.
|METRIC||Size||Hip||Finished hip||Hip ease|
|Paper Theory Miller Trousers||10||94||111||17|
|Elbe Textiles Fremantle pants||C||93||106||13|
|Sew House 7 Freerange Slacks||4||94||102||8|
|Anna Allen Pomona Pants||4||94||107||13|
|Fibre Mood Benita||36||94||99.25||5.25|
All the pants above have “design ease” over and above the wearing ease. The Millers have the most, the Benitas the least. This is what gives the bottom area a fuller look, and the Freerange slacks a more fitted look. I’ve excluded the Seamwork Joss which I don’t like stylistically.
3. What look am I going for?
Elastic waist pants often remind me of kids clothes. But seeing as some minimalist sustainable fashion brands can pull it off I’m taking my inspiration from them. Bot tight like skinny jeans. Not voluminous like super wide culottes or billowing palazzos or oversized sweatpants. Somewhere in the middle. Enough room to move but without feeling sloppy.
This is where it’s useful to check out what other people have made, but not get carried away but enthusiastic comments. You know what I mean… This is the best pattern ever! I need to make another one now! type thing. Chances are it’s happened to you that you are inspired by someone’s make, so you buy the pattern, sew it up, and it’s a disappointment. I wrote before about FOMO here.
Anyway, pants wise, here is a useful pics from Kylie and a video from Helen (scroll to the end of her IG post). Pics posted with their permission:
What did I / will I make?
Fibre Mood Benita
I’ve made this twice now, first as part of hosting the sewalongs (so yes, work related), and second one for a friend. Here’s v1 in linen from Merchant and Mills. The pattern changes I made were: 1) to add a slash pocket – you can view my easy peasy tutorial hack on IGTV here; 2) to lengthen the front and back crotch seam by 1.5cm so the elastic sits better on the natural waist; 3) flat seat adjustment; 4) graded to 38 at the hip for additional comfort as the hip ease is small.
Fremantle Pants or Miller trousers (as yet unmade)
My actual hip measurement is 94cm. I own both the Millers and the Fremantle patterns which I bought when they were released. From Kylie’s pic above, I think I prefer the more fitted ones. Therefore:
- If I make the Millers, I am going to size down at least 2 sizes at the hip, as the finished measurement for size 6 is 103cm (= ease of 9cm).
- If I go for the Fremantle pants, I might go down half a size at the hip, as the finished measurement for between B and C would work out to be 103.5cm (=ease of 9.5cm).
The waist is less of a concern as it’s elastic. Doesn’t mean you want a lot of fabric bunching up there though, so I pick the waist size per the pattern even if I need the hip to be wider. In my case, my waist is 74:
- I will pick size 12 for the Millers.
- The Fremantles specify a high hip measurement rather than waist, and mine is 86cm so I will do a size D on the waistband.
I don’t like the thin 25mm elastic on the Seamwork Joss so that is already a no to the pattern. For reference, I use 20mm elastic for my kids stuff (under <5 years) so a thin elastic looks out of proportion in my opinion.
Fibre Mood helpfully has a page of videos with all sorts of pants adjustments you can do: https://www.fibremood.com/en/adjustments-pants
Flat seat adjustment For me, I always need a flat seat adjustment. There’s a load of ways you can do it, the fastest is to shave off a little from the inner back leg. You can also follow the StyleArc tutorial or the Fibre Mood one:
The final measurement for me is calf width. I have trouble buying knee high boots because I can’t zip them over my calves. Similarly, tapered trousers also don’t go over my calves. Thus I’ll also need to measure the flat pattern to make sure they are wide enough.
So, that was a long blog post but I hope it’s helpful somehow. I am sewing a lot at the moment, partially work, and work also gives me sew-jo… so tell me dear readers … do you want to see more sewing related posts like this?
Till next time
PIN FOR LATER:
Yes! I love seeing the thought process that other people put before they even start sewing! I think these sorts of things are often more helpful than sharing particular garments (not that I don’t enjoy those!)
Hi Ingrid! I think there’s certainly a place for finished garments, but … as someone who tries hard to take a decent picture, I can tell you that I am showing you the garment at the best angle possible. I’m not sure whether part of it is being afraid that saying anything negative will hurt a small pattern business? Even though as I mentioned, garments aren’t designed to fit your body exactly. In that way, sewing is no different from RTW, just you have to do it yourself.
I see that you made calyer pants. What flat seat method did you use for that pants? Did you follow fibre mood or style arc? Also (this is a beginner question) will these 2 methods work even if the pants does not have back darts? Thanks in advance!
Hi Yan, the Calyers were quite a few years ago now, I think I did them in class. I think either method would still work for pants with no darts. The key thing is to always make a test version with some old fabric (you can buy calico, or use an old bedsheet or something like that) and see how it fits – make sure you can still sit down comfortably!
Thank you so much for the fast reply! I enjoy your ig and blog posts a lot. There’s a lot of information that are helpful for beginners like me. I also appreciate that you are not a gusher.
Thank you for the feedback! Happy you find it useful 😉
Thank you so much for your informative & thoughtful post! I appreciate the pictures, too.
I’m looking for wide leg, elastic waist pants with side pockets. I was just getting excited about the Sew House 7 Freerange slacks, but I realized that they have an extra side panel. Now, I’m considering the Arden pants. I’m assuming that after sewing them as is (without the elastic at the ankle) that I may be able to alter them to a wider legged pant.
Glad you found it useful Andrea and thanks for your comment. Since I wrote the blog I also saw the Clyde Pants (Elizabeth Suzann) that seem to be popular, but also with a side panel. Whilst I like an interesting pants design sometimes it does make it harder to fit …
I love the Anna Allen Pomona pant in the wide leg style… have made 4 pairs so far. Summer and winter. The best pair were made from a deconstructed kilt. The pleats were un-sewn and the fabric (pure wool tartan) washed and ironed making for plenty of material for the pants.
Have also made a pair of Sewhouse 7 free range pants. It is a beautiful pattern to work with.