Adventures in Drafting Trousers

I needed a challenging sewing project to distract myself from life events, and for a long time I had hankered after a “smart casual” pair of trousers with a shaped/contoured waistband, a contrast waistband lining and a fly front zip. So I decided that the time was right for tackling them. My starting point was my Sure-Fit Designs Pants Block but I narrowed the leg more than the standard block, I did this based on a Craftsy class by Suzy Furrer. The fabric is from Fabworks Online, and it’s not as drapey as the type of fabric I had originally had in mind, but it was what I had available at the time. The lining fabric was from a blouse I bought cheaply but subsequently decided I didn’t like.

Since I drafted my original block many months ago, I had lost a little weight so I had to re-shape the outseam from the high hip downwards. I also decided that the legs, as drafted, were too baggy so I ended up shaving more than a centimetre off each outseam from the low hip downwards. So the Craftsy class really hadn’t been necessary, it would have been better just to put the trousers on and make the changes then! In theory, if you’re going to make the legs narrower you should remove equal amounts from the inseam and outseam, but I was too lazy & just taking it off the outseam looks fine to me.

At various points to try to help with drafting and/or construction I read, and re-read, the late David Page Coffin’s book on Making Trousers (not an affiliate link) which I bought a while ago, but found it far too wordy for me and largely ended up consulting the internet.

I decided to draft and construct the contoured waistband first, spending ages overthinking how to construct it. Let’s just say it’s way simpler than I thought! For the pattern drafting I followed a YouTube video by Diane Deziel but didn’t notice that she drafted her waistband for ladies’ trousers (i.e. right over left) but I had drafted my trousers left over right. Lots of unpicking of waistband pieces ensued, with the intention of recutting new ones, until in a lightbulb moment I realised that it was simply easier to unpick and re-stitch the fly front zip. This is the waistband pieces part way through construction:

I made a mistake in drafting the seam allowances front & back, so the front is slightly too long (hence a few wrinkles), and the back was uncomfortably short, so I improvised and added a yoke piece to allow me to add the extra length.

I knew I wanted pockets on the front and that I wanted the pockets to reach right across to the fly front to provide a little tummy control. For that I followed the Curvy Sewing Collective’s tutorial except I drafted the grain line horizontally on the pocket stay to provide a bit more rigidity as my fabric has a tiny bit of horizontal stretch. Time will tell if that proves to be the right thing! I would draft the pockets deeper next time round, these are a little too shallow.

Another first for me was a fly front, which was easy to draft as there are instructions in the Sure-Fit Designs book which comes with the pants kit. To construct it I began by following Sandra Betzina’s video, but then found the Itch to Stitch Liana Jeans Sew-a-Long and realised it would have been better to have followed that from the start, as it would have led to an improvement to the finish on the inside. Still, I’m really pleased with how it looks from the outside, although it took multiple attempts to get there because my sewing machine simply could not cope with topstitching through multiple layers of fabric and zip tape. After unpicking the topstitching several times I took DPC’s advice & simply moved the fly out of the way, topstitching just through the trousers front & pocket stay. Much better, although I then needed to slip stitch the fly to the body of the trousers to prevent gaping when I moved.

In the end, there was a lot of hand stitching with this project: the waistband lining and hems were also hand stitched, to give a better finish, but I surprised myself by enjoying it!

When I look at the pictures I can see where I need to improve things, and I am still trying to lose a little weight which will lead to more adjustments in the future, but these trousers are really comfy and they fit much better than any RTW pair I’ve ever had. So I count that as a win!