Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Trouser Chronicles, Chapter 3: Faking It (Jalie 2908)

The story of my efforts at trouser fitting so far:

Chapter 1: The Trouble with Trousers (February) In which I made many many muslins and took many many photos of my butt, and yet achieved very little in the way of improvement in fitting moderately close fitting non-stretch woven trousers.
Chapter 2: Imperfect Trousers Are Better Than No Trousers (July) In which I continued to attempt to fit moderately close fitting woven trouser patterns, and ended up with one pair of not-completely-awful-but-not-good-either trousers.

This is my attempt to stand around looking "casual" in a photo in my new Jalie 2908 trousers. Er. Maybe I'll just go back to starting straight ahead.

This week, I embarked upon round three of Me vs. The Trouser, and this time I decided that there might be An Ultimate Answer to all my problems, and that Ultimate Answer might well be: Lycra! The fact of the matter is that a nice stretchy fabric disguises many a fitting flaw, and I decided it was time to try out "faking better fit through stretchiness" as a strategy. This turned out to be a winner, and, although I've yet to subject them to the test of a full day of wear, these cobalt blue trousers definitely have the potential to be at the top of my list of Favourite Things I've Made In 2016 based on current evidence.

Jalie 2908

Today's story starts with the choice of Jalie 2908, a.k.a That Stretch Woven Bootcut Jeans Pattern Everyone Raved About In 2009/2010. It's extremely widely reviewed -- about 200 times on PR -- and any Google Image search of it produces lo, the largest collection of Butts In Jeans that you could ever want to see.

I made up the pattern as is, straight from the envelope, using the higher of the two rises supplied (view B). This seems ridiculous after I spent SO LONG figuring out adjustments the last two times I worked on trousers. However, when I compared my much-altered basic woven pant pattern with this Jalie pattern, it turned out that a lot of the changes I'd made seemed to be already built into the shape of Jalie's pattern.

Despite this encouraging discovery, I was prepared for this to be (yet another) fitting disaster and this affected my construction decisions. You have to get almost to the end of all of the construction before you can try the trousers on for the first time. Since I was kind of skeptical about the outcome, I wasn't willing to put in hours on the top-stitching and embellishment in case it turned out to be a waste of time. I did topstitch where it was required but just minimally and in my construction thread, and though I always try to sew precisely I didn't sweat the details too much. This pair of trousers is therefore probably sort of "wearable muslin" quality rather than "this is my best work, hurrah" quality. This is is also reflected in the fabric, which was at the more inexpensive end of the stretch wovens I considered, a stretch cotton twill. It's marginally stretchier than called for by the pattern and rather light weight -- fine for the autumn but I wouldn't want to wear these trousers in mid-winter. One problem is that it CREASES OMG. I pressed these trousers for the photo, but dear god, you can barely tell.

Front fit, highly over-exposed to show the details. Too tight at my thighs and upper hip due to making a size too small, but wearable, especially if the fabric grows during the day.
I made a size U from Jalie's size list. This was actually a mistake -- I am between a U and a V in the size range, and I meant to pick the larger size. Somehow in time period between choosing the size and tracing the pattern I got mixed up and ended up tracing the size U. All my fit shots below are therefore a set of variations on a theme of "just a bit too tight". That said, I'm actually OK with how it fits, especially since this fabric is already showing signs that it will grow as you wear it. For one, does anyone else think their trousers look much worse in photos than in the flesh? I definitely don't think the whiskering at the front crotch is anywhere near so obvious or concerning when I look in the mirror vs. looking at the photo. Secondly, I never wear anything tucked in. These shots are the first and last time anyone will ever see the waistband of my jeans, and very often nothing will be visible above my upper thigh because of my shirt/sweater length. So, you know, since it's not so tight that it's uncomfortable to wear, I can live with it.

Rear fit, also a little too tight. Otherwise looks like every pair of RTW jeans I have ever owned in terms of the wrinkling size and location
Overall, the best things about these finished trousers:
  • I love, love, love the colour of this fabric.  LOVE.
Bootcut flare and the teeny tiny hem I had to turn. This is probably closest to the real colour.
  • I like the shape and flare of the bootcut very much. I know bootcut is not super fashionable, despite a recent uptick in popularity, but I've always loved bootcut and how it looks on me. This pattern really works for me in terms of hem width and where the flare starts. It's only JUST long enough out of the envelope though -- I could only turn up only the teeniest, tiniest hem as I wanted to keep as much length as possible.
 To improve on next time:
  • The fit, obviously. I will probably try going up a size next time to a V. Separately, I am becoming more and more convinced, based on some reading I've been doing, that I need to learn a knock knee alteration. This would hopefully improve both the inner thigh fit and the way that trousers/jeans hang below the knees. I'll look at this when I come back to trouser fitting in the next few weeks.

Fly front. Looks okay in this shot, but actually not great.

  • The fly. I did better with the instructions I used from Burda for my last pair of trousers than I did with the Jalie instructions This sounds very unlikely, given the usual state of Burda instructions, but the pattern I used was one of their special "sewing course" patterns and the fly front instructions were great. I might just use them in future for all fly fronts. I don't like how close to the lap edge the zip is in this pair of trousers.
I didn't do anything fancy with the back pockets. I wish I had done at least a little minimal bit of a pattern! I will next time for sure.

  • Some of the finishing, because it is pretty shoddy in places, to be honest, to the point where I was all maybe I'll just try not to capture that particular detail in my photos because it looks rough, tra la la. /o\ That's for fellow sewist consumption of course. In real life, nobody is going to notice, or if they do I would be side-eyeing them pretty hard for looking that closely at my crotch to begin with, but still, ugh, not my best work!
Left: Attempt 1 at a (bias) waistband, with horrible distortion after I topstitched; Right: Attempt 2, on the cross-grain, pieced from scraps. The upper edge is still a LITTLE wavy, but it's still 100% better than Attempt 1!
  • The waistband. This version actually took two attempts. I cut the bias waistband required by the pattern instructions without much enthusiasm because I couldn't see how, without interfacing, it wasn't going to stretch and warp horribly when I sewed it. Since then, I have discovered most people who used the bias waistband HAVE interfaced it, so score one for my instincts, I guess, but minus one for not actually following them in any way. I tried the bias waistband without interfacing, and it was sort of OK right up until I started topstitching, and then NOPE! the hideous mess I expected ensued. In the end I had to piece a second, cross-grain waistband from my (very limited) scraps. I had so little fabric left I couldn't even piece in such a way as to put the piecing seam to match the side seam! However, again, nobody will notice  -- even I can barely see my piecing seams in this photo -- so it was worth the time spent unpicking and piecing for sure.
In conclusion: Faking it with stretch was a success. Yes, I picked the wrong size and no, my sewing was not brilliant. However, this is a perfectly wearable pair of trousers, albeit on the tighter end of the spectrum of what I'm willing to wear. Overall these trousers, while imperfect, are much less imperfect than the last pair, and I'm all about progression, not perfection. \o/

Next up in the Trouser Chronicles: I will definitely make this pattern again although not immediately. I am just bummed that Jalie don't have a non-stretch pattern that I could try! However, I was re-reading an old blog entry for some reason and was reminded that Simplicity actually do a whole range of "Amazing Fit" patterns for non-stretch trousers. Since Burda doesn't seem to be working well for me as a starting point, I decided it couldn't hurt to give one of those a try. Who knows, maybe it really will be amazing :D

For now, due to having more pressing wardrobe needs, I'm probably going to take a little break from trousers again and work on other things. Next up on my sewing table is this combination of pattern, fabric and lining:

Next: Outerwear! Outerwear! Outerwear! :D


  1. I love that jacket combo. Cannot wait to see that.

    TROUSERS! Hurrah!!!!! You did a fantastic job! They look really good and I am with you 100% -- I refuse to be bothered by a wrinkle or two that shows up when I'm standing stock-straight. We have to move; it'll they're fine. It'll be fine. LOL!

    I had to scroll back up at the knock-knee mention but I see where you have those folds emanating below the knee.

    Great job and a beautiful color!!

    1. Thank you!! I wore my trousers today and they were A+++ will wear again very frequently, so I am definitely over worrying about any fitting wrinkles. \o/

  2. Lycra is my secret weapon too! There's a reason it's in most RTW pants. It's not only fit that it helps with; pants are just so much more *comfortable* when they have a bit of stretch. I can't imagine going back to a time before elastic *shudders*

    Your pants are lovely! You should be proud!

    1. Thank you! I was pleased with them when I wrote this post but now I've actually worn them for a day I am THRILLED with them. Definitely a new favourite thing I have made :D