Monday, June 27, 2011

Blue Sailor Linen Trousers

As you have seen on MMJ Day 24, I actually finished my blue linen trousers. That probably doesn't mean as much to you as it does to me, but these trousers have been the longest standing UFO in my sewing history, planned last July for the first Summer Essential Sewalong and finished yesterday - a whole year in between. So I thought I might tell you their story.

I had planned them last July, because linen pants are a wonderful staple for summer, good for all kinds of weather. I had just bought the pattern making book by Cal Patch and seen both Ali's and the Sewing Princess's self drafted trousers and in my youthful innocence, I thought I'd do that, draft the pattern myself. Not caring that the most complicated thing I had ever sewn was a simple Burda wriggle dress that had contained 4 pieces including facings, and that I had never even thought about the construction of trousers. Ah well.

I didn't really start pattern-drafting until September, and while I was pretty motivated, I wasn't very organised. It might have been a good idea to not only draft up the pant legs and pockets, but also the waistband and think about closure (apart from "I want side buttons") - but I didn't. I started cutting and stitching, going as far as trying to add slash pockets, until I realized I'd added them to the backside. With French seams.

Pockets on the backside...

That put a bit of a dent into my motivation. I meant to finish them anyway before going on my trip around the world in October - everybody needs linen pants, right? - but time was too short and I was otherwise occupied.

Let's skip to last March and the Colette Spring Palette Challenge. I was thinking of starting a new pair of trousers with some nice twill/denim, but I hate to waste lots of work and fabric, so I took my linen trousers out again. Lots of seam ripping, measuring and some French seams later, and I had pocket shaped patches - it's not a mistake, it's a design feature, right? ;)

Patches where pockets used to be. I guess it's not too bad...

I also stitched up the side seams and added little button placket thingies - interfaced and all - for buttons and button holes on the left side. Only a waistband to draft and attach! I even started drafting it! Which is when motivation left me, again.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, the weather turned from hot summer to cool and wet (and it's not even August!), and it was Me Made June, and I wanted pants. Trousers. Whatever. So I took out the tentative waistband draft and cut it including seam allowances, totally forgetting that I had already put them in but not marked them. Apart from stitching the front and back side together wrongly a couple of times (thinking helps while sewing, yes?), having to shorten it because of the aforementioned additional seam allowance, and managing to end up with a back dart totally off center, I did have a waistband a couple of hours later. One that was almost an inch too wide for my comfort and obstructed my belly button. Because of the additional seam allowance. Meh.

So, a couple of days ago, I cut off that inch, turned the seam allowances under and topstitched the seam. Not very pretty but it was a quick fix and I was getting very annoyed with that misbegotten pile of fabric. I had probably ripped out three times the amount of thread than ended up in the seams in the end. I had done lots of lazy topstitching, even though all my seams in the beginning had been French.

Lazy topstitching on the waistband. Also, polka dot interfacing, yay! :)

The last thing that almost did me in? My automatic buttonhole function wouldn't work on the placket, even though it worked on the linen scraps. I first thought that the fabric was sliding on the facing, and attached it with some stitches. Then I thought the French seams on the facing might be too thick, ripped them and finally just used iron-on interfacing instead. Nothing worked, and I had started on a buttonhole at least a dozen time, only to rip out the stitches because it would be too short.

Iron-on interfacing instead of a placket. Also, the placket with the buttons on the back. And pockets from the inside.

I really didn't know what to do, I was not going to spend hours doing hand-worked or bound buttonholes on a pair of trousers that I knew had pretty much endless flaws already. So in the end, I did free-hand machine-stitched buttonholes. They're not very pretty, nor are they very regular, but they did work.

Not-very-nice-but-servicable buttonholes. And button placket.

I stitched on eight golden buttons. Finally finished. Almost one year after I started drafting, I've got a me-made pair of trousers. It's far from perfect, but it's finished, and I made it. It took a whole lot of time, but I finished it. It's a very satisfying feeling... :)


  1. oh my GAH, way to work through it! they fit you like a glove. and i wonder why you chose polka dots for the insides? odd. out of character, almost.

  2. I blame it on my inherent laziness. It must be faster to finish something than to make something totally new, right? ;) Re polka dots: wait until I reveal what I finished today... *evil laughter*

  3. Those trousers look pretty good! I like the nautical look of those buttons up each side.
    I love linen trousers for summer, but they have to be quite loose-fitting in our climate or they are too hot!

  4. The trousers look good on you. I have a weakness for dark blue trousers with buttons! I enjoyed reading the epic tale of how you made them!

  5. Your trousers look fabulous! I love the details you did!

  6. Wow, this sounds like an epic project -- I certainly have had those, took the wind out of me. But they look GREAT! These will serve you again and again :)