Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fancy Pants

I love that, to you British folks and Aussies* out there, pants are actually underpants.  That makes me giggle when I write the word pants now.  But "fancy trousers" just doesn't sound the same as fancy pants.  So, fancy pants it is. 
I thought these pseudo riding pants/leggings would be a good introduction to making real pants.  My main sewing goal this year is to make pants that fit.  I've made one pair before, Vogue 8604, but with the wide leg and long crotch I didn't have any fitting issues.   I don't know why I've been so scared to try making other pants thus far.  Maybe because they are the most difficult thing for me to find (that fit) off the rack.  I've been reading Pants for Real People which has given me some insight in to why that is.  It's embarrassing, but I'll write more about that another time.

Anyway, I used McCalls 6173 as my starting point.  I used version A with the mock fly and waistband.  I thought it would be good practice for later on in my pants sewing adventure.  I looked at a lot of different styles of riding pants and the various seaming details.  I've always liked the way riding pants looked.  I think actual equestrian pants have patches on the inner leg for reinforcement.  I chopped my pattern up in to pieces and then sewed them back together again to fake the same look.  I did it all using the highly technical method of holding up a measuring tape to my own leg and guessing.  It worked!  I love it when that happens.  Here's a photo of how I divided up the front and back sections.  The seam above the knee was made after I sewed everything together.  I added some length to compensate for this seam on the original pattern pieces.

Initially I wanted to use flat felled seams.  I sewed one front section together and it looked horrible.  It was almost impossible to sew a perfectly straight seam on the fabric I used.  I took it apart and sewed the seams together normally.  Then I pressed the seam allowances to one side and top stitched.  Not as beautiful on the inside as I would have liked.  The blue pieces are corduroy.  The body of the leggings are made of something called a ponteroma knit from Hancock.   Just a double knit, I believe.  It has a subtle pebbly looking print on it.  In hindsight, I should have used a knit with more recovery than a double knit.  Something with spandex or lycra.  The double knit gets a little wrinkly and baggy at the knees after some wear. 

The mock fly was a little confusing.  I think the dreaded fly front is what scares me the most about making pants.  Things are put together backwards from the way I think they should be.  It doesn't quite make sense to me.  I know it will take some practice to get it right.  I actually have another pair of pants, a UFO from almost a year ago, hanging in a closet because I couldn't figure out the instructions for the fly front.  How similar is a mock fly to a regular fly front?  Just curious.  I do like having the mock fly on these because it makes me feel like I'm wearing actual pants, though they are just glorified leggings.

I'm pleased with how they turned out.  They look good under several different tunics and dresses that I already have.  I may even make another pair in a more appropriate knit.   Fancy pants, indeed! 

* You will also think it's hilarious that in South Carolina our state dance is called The Shag :)


  1. Those look great! The only difference (as far as I know) between a mock fly front and a regular fly is whether the fold-over part is a separate piece or cut right on. I don't know if you do the construction any differently (I've only done the mock fly version) but I wouldn't think so. I still refer to Debbie Cook's tutorial every single time, though, or I WILL mess it up.

    Love that crazy seaming and the blue insets... Makes me so impatient to get to my cargoes... ;)

  2. I really like them, too, and normally I'm no fan of leggings... I have the same issue with pants: I'm having fitting problems and am kind of scared to make them, though I also made some before. They just turned out ok, not great. But it's definitly one resolution for 2011.

  3. Great job! I love how you have adapted the pattern to get these pants just how you want them. They look very cool!

  4. I love these! they look fantastic with your top. Have a great weekend!

  5. These look terrific. I think the differences between a "real" and mock fly are 1. Separate vs cut on outer piece and 2. Underflap vs no underflap. The construction is not very different.

  6. Love the pants - very fancy. They look fabulous with the blue top/dress. I think you've captured the spirit of riding pants perfectly.

  7. How cute! I highly enjoyed your highly technical guess work. I'm glad it worked out!

  8. These are so great! I never take the time to make things like leggings, camis, etc, but I really should. They add so much to the outfit! I love the detail you added!

    Also, you did an amazing job with the fit! I had a ton of issues with the pants I tried to make for the trouser sew-along. Have you found "Pant For Real People" to be helpful? I bought it, but haven't really looked at it yet.