Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Ridiculous Pirate Franken-Portfolio trousers

Warning - this is a long post, you may want to go and get a cup of tea and a biscuit before reading.

I had Sew Lisette Portfolio trousers (Simplicity 2245) on my summer essentials list. Here is the pattern drawing to show you what they look like. They are supposed to be three quarter length trousers. I started them back in May. The instructions are clear, the pattern is straightforward to follow. I worked away and they came together quickly. Too good to be true? Well, my mistakes are all my own and not down to the pattern design at all, but I tried them on before putting in the zip, they fit fine. Once I had put the zip in, uh-oh, I couldn't actually wear them and breathe out at the same time. Do you see there could be a slight problem here? They fitted fine around the hips, thighs etc , just the waistband was too tight.

So I did the mature and sensible thing...I left them screwed up in a heap down the back of the radiator for a few weeks. Then, deciding I wasn't going to let my work so far go to waste, I fished them out and tried them on again and the top picture. As you can see they are very creased from their sojourn down the back of the radiator. They also have the rough turn up before the nice neat cuff is made. I decided to lower the waist as they were too tight only at the higher part of the waist. So, off came the tabs (which I really really liked), out came the zip (which I had ironically sewn in very neatly for once), off came the waistband. I sewed up the seam where the zip had been. I made the cuffs at the trousers legs and added the tabs that had come from the waist with some nautical buttons from my stash. I liked the tabs too much to lose them.
Nautical button and tab details

Then I made a simple casing at the waist and inserted elastic. But uh-oh, now the waist was just a tiny bit too low. I wore the trousers for half a day but it was no good, too too low. Like builder's derriere low. I could have kept them like that if I wanted to spend my days pulling and twisting up my trousers.

So, taking a deep breath, I unpicked the casing, and ironed it flat. I dug though my fabric stash and found the remains of the blue fabric I had cut the trousers from. I used this to make a new waistband which was basically a long rectangle. I folded it over and inserted elastic. I know elastic waisted trousers are kind of "old lady on a coach trip to Llandudno" but it does mean I can now wear the trousers. And my shirts cover the elastic style faux pas. So maybe sadly higher waisted trousers are not for me, I see many other sewing bloggers looking fabulous in high waisted styles, but think I am going to let them pass me by for now.
Slanted front pocket

So, back to the trouser making, fed up having no pockets in many of my me-made clothes I added a slanted patch pocket to the front, using the pattern shape from the Sew U book by Wendy Mullins. This book is such a great resource as it has different pattern pieces for different pocket shapes and styles so you can quickly pick out what you want to add to an existing project. By this stage I only had a few strips of blue fabric left so I joined two with a centre seam to create enough width for the pocket. (I am hoping the centre pocket seam looks like a deliberate detail, not a make-do measure.) Then I lined the pocket with a lovely pink fabric patterned with sailing ships.
I only have a small piece of this ship fabric from the bin bags of fabric I was given back in February, I loved it so much that I saved it for a lining project like this one. I also cut out a little ship and sewed it into the pocket side seam as a little badge detail. (This is still making me smile!) I am going to try and see if I have enough fabric left to make the pocket for the other side. But for today I wore them with one pocket only - just for testing out purposes of course (nothing to do with impatience).

I think the laborious, drawn out process and seam ripping within this project makes it qualify for Jessica's Ridiculous Challenge. Plus the fact that I have finished with a pair of trousers that make my daughter shout "Ahoy there me hearties" every time she sees the buttons. ("Why you got pirate trousers?" she asked me) And plus the decidedly unstylish elastic waist, something I know my sister will despair of when she sees it.


  1. Well, matey, I think they look great & have enjoyed reading about them more than you enjoyed making them maybe? The lining details are genius- esp with that little flag & the buttons.
    Totally interested in how these turn out as (gasp!) I relented & bought this pattern too! Wasn't sure how long the trousers are meant to be. I am also interested in your hi/lo waist experiences as my recent capri trousers are perhaps styled in the old fashioned waisted way & fit properly .... until you want to slouch around after a day travelling, stuff your face & loll. I must admit I had to undo the button & this made me think that they may look nice, but what about comfort???Elastic waists feel very appealing in that sense!

  2. Thank you ScruffyB. I too was puzzled about the length of the portfolio trousers. The pattern pic doesn't give muc of a clue, but I did read on the Sew Lisette website they are "classic cropped" trousers. Mine are probably a bit shorter than classic. If you go to the Sew Lisette flickr group there are a few photos of finished trousers. Some are full length but I found that looked a bit odd. I know what you mean about the end of the day and undoing buttons! Somehow a drawstring waist seems less of a faux pas then elasticated...or I have a pattern (untried as yet) with a flat front to the trousers but a casing and elastic at the back. x

  3. Your daughter cracks me up! Pirate trousers, indeed... :) I love the nautical button tabs (I feel like I have those exact golden anchor buttons lying around somewhere, too...) and the little tab and pocket lining are adorable! High waisted is totally overrated in my opinion (although some chicks really do rock the look) - I hate buttons digging into my belly when I bend over...

  4. Your sialing ship tag made me smile too! so cute! No wonder you love that fabric... well after a marathon of fitting and fussing I think your new pants look great! Can't even see the elastic waistband with a top hanging over them anyway, so I wouldn't worry about that :) and I'm sure your sister will love them too when she sees how nice they look. I do like the turned up cuffs too!
    btw, thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm so sorry if you have received negative comments on your blog. It is sad but true that one single mean comment seems to have a far bigger effect on us than a hundred positive ones, strange, isn't it? Those mean comments are just not worth losing any sleep over.

  5. I love how you added so many nautical details on these. I have had the identical problem with pants. I finish and then the waist is either gaping or too tight. I think there has to be a better way to test fit pants before putting the waistband on, but I am not sure what it might be, maybe a split back ? Anyway, kudos for the perseverance to finish these !

  6. Thank you for the comments. I have been wearing these a lot so it was worth the perseverance. And as Carolyn says no one can see the elastic top. ;)

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  8. Hello! I just clicked to follow you so thought I'd say hi... I'm a friend of Magpie Mimi and saw your pirate
    trousers post, and how can I not follow someone who makes the brilliant suggestion of starting with a cup of tea and a biscuit! Giles (Touch And Sew / touchandsew.blogspot.com)

  9. Now if I was to try this at home I would have to suffer the cry of " Avast behind, matey!" - aren't you lucky it's only your kids who comment on your piratical adventures?!
    Your problem with the "high waist" was a surprise because I don't see this pattern as high-waisted at all! I think my boundaries have been stretched outrageously since sewing vintage patterns. I can only fit three fingers in the space between the top of my waistband and the bottom of my bra when I sit down in my 40's-pattern trousers. I think when garments reach such heights, the fit is entirely different. I want to try this pattern but I was worried the waist looked too low!
    Anyway - it sounds like a painful sewing process and I admire your patience! And best of all? Your trousers look great! :D

  10. I love what you did with the pockets too! Great idea :)