I originally planned on making this pattern as a pair of jeans but after I made a muslin and went to go cut these pants out of my denim I discovered that I just barely didn’t have enough of the right weight of denim, despite having 3 different suitable denims in my stash. So I decided to make them out of a stashed wool instead. And then when I started cutting the wool I discovered that I had inadvertently traced one stovepipe leg and one extra wide leg for my final modified pattern and that’s why they weren’t fitting on my denim. Oops. But I’m really glad that my silly mistake led to these wool trousers!
The pattern is vintage McCalls 5559 from 1977. I was drawn to the unique pockets – an opening between waistband and leg is the top of the interior patch pocket. I was thinking that it would be great for some visible topstitching on denim, but in the wool I used a standard thread that blends right in so you can barely see they’re there.
I started working on them at the end of winter this year and they kind of dragged in to spring thanks to my sloooooow fitting process. These are the first fitted woven pants I’ve sewn since having a baby and my crotch curve is definitely a different shape thanks to a little belly and less bum. Like many women, my weight fluctuates a few pounds over the course of any month and what made fitting these pants challenging for me is that my weight now fluctuates in my belly. (Before having a baby I gained and lost from my hips.)
Despite the fact that there’s a bit of pulling across my curvy belly sometimes (I took these photos months apart and you can see they pull in some photos but not others), I’m quite happy with the fit. Gillian recently had a great discussion on her blog about how much harder it is to get a smooth fit with no wrinkles or pulling anywhere the more curves there are on your body. While her conversation was in terms of plus size and curvy fit, which are not categories I fit into, it is interesting for me to see the discussion play out in microcosm in my own body.
I decided that if I’m going to sew wool trousers I’m going to do it “right” so I added a partial underlining to the legs (to just below the knee so they won’t bag anywhere from wear) and a full lining. One nice tip for adding partial length underlinings – you can see that I used the selvedge edge at the bottom of the underlining so no extra bulk is added from a seam finish mid leg. Despite my usual preference for natural fibers I opted for this pretty polyester that I had in my stash because I wanted these trousers to be for winter wear so the extra warmth from non-breathing poly will actually be appreciated.
I did use a different fabric for my waistband lining. I had a really thick black satin in my scrap bin and thought it would be nice for the waistband since, even with understitching, a lining can peek out sometimes and the black blended in instead of popping out like the pink lining.
As I said, the unusual pockets are one of the things that first drew me to the pants but I’m now actually quite glad that I didn’t first attempt them in a thicker denim as it would have been really hard (maybe impossible?) to make them without adding a lot of bulk to the center front of my belly and I think that would have left me disappointed. But, despite the fact that I probably won’t use the front pockets, they’re a fun feature to have tried.
Apparently, even through the underlining, lining, and wool fabric there’s some VPL (that’s visible panty line in case you were wondering) going on, but I guess that’s a reason to take blog photos so you can see your own clothes from all angles, right? ;) I did think about adding pockets to the back of the trousers to break up the vast swath of rear end, but decided the wide waistband was enough and that if I ever wanted to wear the darn things I needed to stop futzing with them and finish sewing them!