For the first time in a few years, I made pants!
Well, let’s back up a step. This is first *successful* pair of pants I’ve made in a few years. I have another pair in progress that I’ve completely stalled out on. We won’t talk about that project…
These are McCall’s 6440, a Palmer/Pletsch, made up in a stretch crepe from Hart’s Fabric. I’ve never worked with crepe before, let alone stretch crepe. The web blurb describes the fabric as similar to a ponte, and it’s not an exaggeration. There’s a lot of stretch in this, which is exactly why I picked it.
I was going for a skinny cigarette pant with a “Funny Face” kind of feel. I had previously been working on Simplicity 2315 for a pants refashion. I thought the project would be a great muslin before cutting into this fabric. Hah. That project was not bringing me joy, so I jumped ship to McCall’s 6440 and just cut straight into my fabric. There’s something to be said for being thoughtful and careful. There’s also something to be said for diving right in and challenging yourself to figure it out as you go. That’s what I went for here.
As usual, I ignored the super-helpful and in-depth Palmer/Pletsch fitting instructions. I just can’t get into pin fitting with pattern tissue. It’s so fussy and doesn’t offer a realistic result. I’d rather baste it all and go from there. I cut a 10 based on waist and hip measurements. I played it safe; I probably should’ve cut a 6. I ended up taking a lot of width out of the legs in particular, the rise, and a bit out of the back waist. The size 10 fit okay; they just looked like standard trousers–not the skinny cut shown in the technical drawing. (Noted for future use, though–I kind of liked the look for something more conservative.)
I picked this pattern specifically for the slim silhouette. I have plenty of wide leg trousers, but nothing for work that’s a good match for boxy tops and sweaters. I thought the back seam on the legs would make these easier to alter to get a good fit, and guess what? I WAS TOTALLY RIGHT. (I may be savoring my victory a bit here…)
With the back seam, I was able to tweak specific areas to get a better fit, in a way I couldn’t have done with just the side seams. (My husband’s comment, “You’re spending a lot of time looking at your butt in the mirror, honey.”) Plus, I just like the back seam as a design detail.
Anyway, I ended up sewing everything on these about two or three times. First, I basted, then I stitched. Then I stitched again. And unpicked. And restitched. In part, I did a lot of tweaking with the fit beyond what I initially planned. I also cleaned up a few areas that had some less-than-perfect stitching. I walked a weird line between being a perfectionist and being lazy.
The thing that probably threw me off the most with these pants is how much they look like yoga pants. I’m not sure if it’s the spongy texture of the crepe or just the black color or the waistband or what, but at some point, I started finding it a bit ridiculous to put too much energy into a garment that looks (from a distance) like fancy sweats.
This is the first project that’s really made me think that I want a serger. I knew I wanted to finish the edges so they’d wash and wear well. I just didn’t realize how long it would take to do that on every edge of six leg pieces! With a serger, I could’ve sewed and finished it all in a fraction of the time *and* had a nicer finish inside.
As it is, I zig-zagged all the edges (in gray thread, because I was running out of black thread, so it totally stands out, of course).
I ended up taking the, um, crotch (is that really the word we’re going with? Yes? Fine.) quite a bit. I also took in the side seams an average of 1cm, and narrowed the leg opening by 2.5″ via the back leg seam. Finally, I shortened them by 1.5″ at the hem.
A note on fabric. I purchased 1 1/4 yards of this 58″W fabric. The pattern calls for 1 5/8 yards. So clearly, I win. However, I did not have enough to cut facings. I cut the waistband facings out of a leftover scrap from my brocade dress. So, I win again, because I love this kind of detail in handmade clothing!
Overall, they’re not as awesome as I’d envisioned. I did enjoy working with the stretch crepe, which allows for a lot of movement. Even if it did leave tiny black bits all over my sewing space, and myself, and everything it touched… Hart’s also has this fabric in navy and maroon, so I’m dreaming of what I could make out of them.
The fabric is super comfortable. It’s soft to the touch and completely opaque, which is something I appreciate in a bottom-weight. It has a surprising heft to it. I think part of my “looks like sweats” reaction has to do with the fact that this fabric made tailored pants actually feel akin to sweats. (I am nothing if not easily suggestible.)
Changes I’d make in the future: putting the zipper in the side instead of the center back. (This pattern offers directions and pattern pieces for both options.) The zipper went in a bit wonky, and wonkiness near the butt is the worst kind, amirite? I should’ve sprung for the invisible zipper, but I only had a regular zip on hand. Not a huge deal, just noting it for next time.
I also would consider adding at least one welt pocket to the back. I’ve never done a welt pocket, but it would help elevate these from yoga pant-esque to office-ready.
TL;DR — I made pants, and if anyone is looking to do a yoga-inspired remake of Funny Face, I’ve got you covered!
Edit: After wearing them a few times, they need to be taken in even more. I’m not sure how much is the level of stretch recovery on the fabric and how much is fit (could be both or neither), but when I stand, they look like Old Lady Stretchy Pants. I intentionally didn’t slim down the knee area much, so that I would have enough room to move around and sit and squat, but they look super dorky. Down another size the legs go, movement be damned.
Edited AGAIN to add: OMG I’m looking at the photos and I’m horrified I’ve worn these out of the house several times. (I usually write the post after construction, then wear it at least once, take photos, and make any additional notes.) These are super unflattering! Expect an update on these…