Sunday, 23 October 2016

Trouser-Making Mission is On: Revisiting the Ultimate Trousers

Hi everyone!

Hope your weekends have been going well? I've just been checking out the 'Anywhen' installation at the Turbine Hall and the new Switch House exhibitions at Tate Modern, topped off with a Sunday roast. I'm feeling a bit lethargic after all that but was hoping to crack on with my Autumn trouser-making campaign – I have some Safran pieces all cut out and ready to be assembled!

The good news is that not only have I managed to stash-bust another piece of fabric that has been lingering for far too long, I've also managed to conquer my fear of the Ultimate Trousers pattern. I received this as part of a giveaway a couple of years ago from Dolly Clackett, and had bought this fabric especially to make them up in. However, after a disastrous pair of shorts that I couldn't even give away, and a slightly disappointing first go in full trousers, I decided to try my wearable muslin back on and see what I needed to do to make them right.

To my surprise they weren't all that bad- I even wore them for my long-sleeved Melilot shoot, so I decided to re-insert the zip and wear them to work for a day to see what it was about them that bugged me so much. The main issue is that the waistband doesn't sit right on me at all. For the wearable muslin I had added 1” to the back rise to allow extra room for my rear, but I still had the issue that the waistline sat right on the thickest and squishiest part of my middle, which wasn't flattering. The facing kept wanting to flip out and fold up into where my waistline should have sat, so I took a note of where this fold was forming and added the extra length onto my pattern pieces.

I ended up adding 2.5cm, or another inch, to the centre back at the top, blending to nothing at the sides. I also added 2cm to the centre front at the top, again blending to nothing at the sides. I lined up my facing pieces with the new lines I'd drafted and decided I didn't need to make any changes to them. I think for this version it definitely hits me in a more flattering and more comfortable place, although I could still stand to make the trousers more high-waisted to my personal preference. The waist facing does still want to roll out a bit though.

I think they might also be a bit short on me! They're definitely ankle-swingers, which looks OK with ankle boots but does expose more shin when I'm sitting down (I'm around 5 ft 5 for reference). I don't know if they could also do with taking in a little bit at the back thigh, as it looks baggy in some pictures, or whether I need that slack in order to move.

This fabric is cotton with a little bit of stretch in it. If it looks familiar, it's because I made a skirt with the lighter colourway for my 'Camberwell Beauty' box-pleat skirt, made as a palette-cleanser to relieve the frustrations of my first attempts at the Ultimate Trousers. It's from Mermaid Fabrics, and when I bought it I was worried I might be catching the tail-end of the printed trousers trend. Two years later, I no longer care! I've been watching a lot of the Gomorrah series lately so I feel these channel a bit of Italian ostentatiousness, although not quite up to Donna Imma's level. Maybe I should accessorise with a gold chain belt?

I'm fairly pleased with these over all though. I could have done a better job with pattern matching- the centre front and back are OK, but the sides are misaligned. At the time I just needed to get on with it and didn't want to spend more time fussing as I'd already put these off for so long, and I'm glad they are now accomplished! I actually made up another pair of Mimi pyjama bottoms to get me in the headspace for making trousers again (didn't take any snaps, but if you want to see me looking like a cosy dork my first pair are here, and the new pair is the same but in a blue colourway of the same fabric). 

The actual construction of the Ultimate Trousers is easy-peasy (although I could stand to make my zip insertion neater) it's just working out the fit to make them flattering that's the challenging part.

As I have accrued a nice little collection of trouser patterns I think I'll get on with them before coming back to this one, but I'm glad I've finally made peace with it and can see myself making another pair in a nice solid jewel or neutral colour. Definitely with length added to the legs though!

Any trouser-tweaking tips always welcome! Have you got any projects that you're afraid to tackle?

NorseOtter xx


  1. They look great! Best trouser fitting tip I ever got was to buy a flexi ruler. You need to make good friends with it, but it will help you to get an excellent fit!

  2. Thanks Heather, I need all the help I can get! Are there any particular brands you'd recommend, and any guides on how to use it?