Now that cool weather has arrived, my summer pants wardrobe is no longer appropriate. As I tried on my existing Eureka! Pant wardrobe, I realized that I urgently need to get on with developing my pants pattern for fall and winter. Over the years I have determined that a contoured waistband is my favorite style, so my goal is to develop a contoured waist pattern that is looser in the leg. I dug through my stash and found two pieces of fabric to start with – medium weight blue denim and brushed black twill – giving me a blue and black foundation for my cool weather wardrobe.
First step was the pattern work to create the contoured waistband. I started from the version of the pattern I used for my Hibiscus linen pants which I had liked best of the summer pants; it was also the most developed, with a zipper rather than pull-on elastic waistband. I followed the directions in Glamour Details for Eureka! Pants to lower the top of the pants and draft the 2” deep contoured waistband.
This photo shows the evolution from the original elastic waist pattern (brown tissue) to the 1″ waistband with zipper (middle layer) to the contour waistband version (top layer). As you can see, the waist height and leg silhouette changed, but not the crotch curves!
Try on and Fit, again and again.
I cut the pants out of the denim and basted the legs and crotch seam together for a first fitting. It was immediately clear that I needed to take in the fullness of the legs for this much more structured fabric! I also felt that there was gaping in the back, so I asked Rae to pin in a back dart. She gave me two petite darts on each side to remove the fullness that had been taken up by elastic in the waistband. I was pleased to find that the crotch depth was still just right thanks to the Eureka! Pants fitting method.
After sewing in the darts and taking both side seams and inseams in by about ¼”, I basted the waistband on for the next fitting. We decided the waistband was right but that the legs were still too full in the back and inner thigh. Seam ripper in hand, I released the waistband at the side seams, picked out the side seams and inseams to adjust, and basted it back together with an additional 3/8” taken out of the back leg in both places. Since I knew we were close to right in the center back, I inserted the zipper for the next fitting to get a more accurate sense of the fit in the waistband.
An additional change I made when basting the pants back together was to attach each back waistband to its corresponding left and right side and the front waistband to the entire front before stitching the side seams from hem to waist. This construction method will allow me to make further changes to the side seam without removing the waistband. Turned out to be a good move! On the final fitting we decided to take another 1/8” out of the side seams through the high hip and waistband to keep the waistband sitting securely.
Wear and Record alterations on your pattern
Now it was time to finish the pants and give them a real wearing test! In the finishing work, I added a pair of essential back patch pockets using the large pocket pattern in Glamour Details. Having worn my new pants a few times, I’ve concluded that the waistband is perfect – I like where it is sitting on my body and it is snug enough to stay put without squeezing. I recorded all of the fitting changes on my new pattern pieces and cut them out along the new cutting lines so there will be no confusion the next time I use the pattern.
I’ve started work on the black twill pair, cutting them out with the altered pattern. Because this fabric has a tiny bit of lycra, I am using the altered waistband construction method in case I need to snug them in a little. I am also planning to baste the side seams at first go as I may want to reduce the leg fullness a bit more. Hopefully these pants will be done in time to post a few pics on social media this week!
Tips for Your Pant Journey
Tips when developing a new pant pattern, or a new style with an established pattern:
- Baste the fronts and backs together at inseams, crotch and side seams with no finishing for a first fitting.
- Make changes gradually, one step at a time, trying on after each change.
- Simplify the construction for easier alterations, as I did by sewing the waistband to each section, and omit time-consuming details.
- Don’t cut away any excess fabric (such as in the seam allowances) until you have transferred all changes onto your pattern.
- Record all changes to your paper pattern, along with notes and dates if needed.
- Wait until you are satisfied with the fit to do the finishing work, such as finishing the seam allowances, adding pockets, topstitching, and finalizing the waist treatment
- Make one pair and wear it a few times before moving on to the next pair or additional style modifications.
To most observers, this basic pair of pants appears unremarkable, but to me it is the foundation of a whole new wardrobe of pants that fit. I can’t wait to make more! The next step in my journey will be to use this pattern to develop a Sporty front zipper and front pockets along with the contoured waistband, like Rae’s High Waist Jeans. I’ve already got some gray stretch denim from Stylemaker Fabrics waiting in the wings.
Are you making new pants for the changing seasons? What are your goals? We’d love to hear about it.
Happy Sewing, Carrie