Pants are one of my favorite things to make. I went on a major fitting tear a couple years ago and made five or six pairs in a couple months, so at this point I’m pretty comfortable with the process and have a good idea of what works for me. That said, most of my present wardrobe is either wide-leg trousers or jeans, and it’s started feeling a little stale. I decided it was high time I tried out a new silhouette.
I’ve amassed a pretty good collection of tapered pants patterns, but hadn’t gotten around to fitting any of them. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge, because the gymnastics years gave me pretty significant thighs and calves, which matter very little in a wide-leg trouser but create all kinds of hilarious pull lines as the fit gets closer. I made one muslin of a vintage tapered leg pattern several months ago, rolled my eyes, and went back to costuming.
But this time I was determined. I dug out V1293, sewed up a quick muslin, and gamely started hacking away at it. I pinned out a lot of the curve in the side seams, then slashed down the middle to add width at the front thigh and back calf. Since I didn’t actually need more room in the front waist, I took some of that width back out at the center front and planned to ease the rest into the pocket facing. The more standard way to handle this would be to add a dart, but I knew this flannel eased beautifully and didn’t want a dart colliding with the pocket opening. The result is still a little looser than I’d like below the knee, but it’s a good start and successfully scratches that itch for something different.
The fabric is an olive wool flannel, which I pretreated with a quick soak in the bathtub. It’s not the nicest flannel I’ve used, but it’s an unusual color that still works with most of my wardrobe. The waistband and pockets are lined with a firm, lightweight cotton twill, which was the right call for the waistband and probably wrong for the pockets as it tends to hold wrinkles from sitting. I used silk crepe de chine on the pockets for another pair of pants and love them, so I should probably stick with that. The binding is a very light, almost sheer silk habotai.
I more or less did my own thing with the interior finishing. The pattern’s suggestions went as far as the bound edge on the waistband facing, but had nothing to say about the fly facing, pockets, etc. I serged the leg seams, hand whipstitched the fly facing to minimize bulk, and did a Hong Kong finish on the pockets and fly shield. I also cut both front waistband pieces to the longer length, because I like the sharp corner you get when you wrap the excess length on the overlap side around to the inside (instead of sewing a corner and turning it out). The trouser hooks probably should have been about an eighth inch further in from the edge, so they’re less likely to show when the pants are worn. I’ll go back and fix that eventually.
The original pattern was cropped and split at the ankle. I ignored this and added about three inches to the length, bringing them down to my ankle bone with enough extra for a nice hem. (I might add a little more for the next pair.) I’ve been dissatisfied lately with the bulkiness of double-roll hems, especially with wool, so I went with some prepackaged hem tape I acquired in a sack of miscellaneous notions from a friend’s grandmother. This stuff is miserably scratchy and stiff, but it does make for a nice flat hem and it’s not going to be a problem when I’m wearing socks and shoes.
The one major flaw in these pants is that the wool tends to relax as I wear them. I definitely should have lined them to prevent them from bagging out – another thing I can totally get away with in wide trousers but can’t with this narrower fit. I may or may not go back and add a lining to this pair, but hopefully this post will keep me honest if I’m tempted to bail on it next time around.