Monday 18 May 2009

Tailoring Trousers - practice urgently needed

I have never made a pair of trousers in my life. I just want to clear that up!

For the jacket part of the suit, I have deconstructed the Honest Dragon jacket and am cribbing some (but not all) of the pattern from there. The trousers, however, were the worst fit imaginable, being around 5 inches too big in the waist. There is no way I can successfully work with these, not having any experience of trousers.

I therefore have bought a Vogue pattern for a classic Men’s Suit (GRE V1753), and will simply make the trousers to that pattern, brining into it the features of the Ten suit I have researched.
But before I go head-long into making those, I thought I would get some practice in by making some other trousers first.
I will run these in parallel with making the calico and moleskin jacket, so hopefully when I have nailed the jacket and the methods of making trousers, I will be all fired up and ready to make my Tennant suit from Jo-Ann fabric.

I work best with a goal to focus my mind. So rather than just doing some random trousers, I have chosen to make some Six trousers, inspired by some previous postings on dw_cosplay entitled Six Breakdown. They are fairly loose, so tight tailoring is minimal, which I think will help my confidence while making them.

Someone had found the right fabric Yellow Ticking (see left) and a suitable pattern from Laughing Moon Mercantile.

I have never really done anything to a commercial pattern before, having always designed my own because I felt nothing else would be suitable. So while making these, I thought I’d share the experience of working with an established pattern.

I ordered the Lauging Moon’s pattern #106, Californian Pants (see below), and the yellow ticking, which I hope to take delivery of soon.

Click on picture to enlarge
Here is how the pattern is described:
Mid to Late 19th Century (1850 - 1900) Civilian Style Pants. The front has vertical front pockets, a button fly, and suspender buttons. The back can have two welt pockets or none at all, a back cinch belt and a split back waistband with suspender buttons. The hems at the bottom of the legs are shorter at the center front than the center back and have a very slight flare.

For those who have never purchased a pattern before, it comes tightly packed in an A5 sized envelope, with the pattern itself on the thinnest tissue paper imaginable!

Each part of the pattern is made up of all a range of similar sizes superimposed over each other, so you need to choose the one you want and work to the appropriate line (see right).
For this pattern they code the sizes 1 to 12, with each code covering various sizes within a fitting range of Men’s Slim, Men’s Mature, Men’s Portly or Women’s.
I will work to the Men’s Slim fitting; and to size 6, which covers waist 38. I am a little smaller than this, but would rather work to a pattern I can take in a little rather than not have any to work with.

If I cut the original pattern paper for the size I want, and find it is wrong, I won’t be able to rescue the other sizes. So I use a tracing wheel (see below) to transfer the pattern to my own pattern paper, which I then cut out and use. This way I always have the original pattern to refer back to.

I got the tracing wheel from Jaycotts, where I have got most of my clever little gadgets over the years. They are an Aladdin’s cave of things for bespoke needs.

While transferring the pattern (see below) I foolishly look at what I have cut out and find that at this stage I have no clue how half of these curiously shaped and notated pieces become part of the trousers!
All will become clear no doubt . . . . I hope.

Then to check the size for fit before storming into make the trousers, I have quickly cut the four main pieces that make up the legs from calico (see below).
I will then sew them together without setting any pockets or the fly front. I will however, add the belt band as this is crucial to the waist and how it ultimately fits.

I didn’t have any time on Sunday to get any actual sewing done, so seeing how it fits will have to wait until another day.
Time was short as I was off to The Roundhouse in Camden Town to see a special one-off concert given by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which was great fun and well worth the effort of going.


  1. The Laughing Moon pattern is perfect for Six-- I used it the last time I made Six pants for the Federation's Six. (also works for Five-- although, the last time I made pants for Five, I used a (now-discontinued) Burda pattern which was pretty darn similar to the Laughing Moon Pattern.)

  2. Hi Jennifer.
    I would be most interested to hear any tips or suggestions for making these trousers from the Laughing Moon pattern.
    Could you contact me direct by email so we can swap techniques?
    Mail me with the link in the top right of my page, or at
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  3. very good demonstration. That is one of the kind. I think that is very useful for the readers and for the sewers too.

  4. I have to admit, i'm rather looking forward to reading the rest of this. Mainly for the suit jacket though. I suddenly got the urge to sew(after almost a year without doing so) the other day. and made a hand puppet for a very close friend of mine(based on a puppet from an anime series). happy with my work i thought about it and decided to make a jacket for another friend as a cosplay piece. I have made t-shirts and last minute trousers(elastic waist-bands, no pockets) for school shows. but a suit jacket? i found this blog while looking for instruction online, and, as the Tennant suit is similar to the one i want to make, i decided i'd look through. after this post? i knew i'd be more well informed than i was before. ^^