Trousers are back! They are comfortable to wear. The pleats give you ease as well as style.
For a few years I have been thinking that pleated trousers would make a comeback. Some forward designers added them to their lines, but I didn’t see them at Nordstrom or even at our local high-end boutique Mercantile, so I held off. Also, women were loving their super-skinny pants. This year I took the risk and designed a trouser for Butterick. In honor of the love for slim pants, I did a slim trouser and another view with slightly deeper pleats and a fuller leg.
I saw a trouser from Ferragamo featured in the September 2022 WSJ Magazine, shown above. It is full. For the fashionistas out there who want this look, just take View B of my pattern B6878 and widen the legs. Remember, pants are just two legs, and after fitting the pattern tissue, you can narrow or widen the legs easily. I might have hemmed them just a tad shorter than the ones the model is wearing!
The pleats give you ease as well as style. Palmer/Pletsch pant patterns include tissue markings for alterations as well as fit tips in the guidesheet to help you succeed.
In this blog I’ll share my favorite trouser tips. I took some photos of important techniques while sewing. I chose the narrow leg (View A) because that is what I currently like and was best for my fabric, an Irish linen called Pembroke by Moygashel. This high-quality linen was available when Susan Pletsch and I were traveling, but no longer. In fact, both my crinkle rayon top and the linen were from Susan’s stash. She is downsizing!
Use one of today’s lightweight linens and just add ease by using View B wide-leg trouser or shorts and/or by letting out the 1” side seams when you want to widen them more, for a more casual look. Or use a drapey wool for that Greta Garbo or Lauren Bacall look similar to the Ferragamo trouser.
I don’t have room in the pattern instructions for everything (guidesheets aren’t books) so I refer you to our updated second edition of Pants for Real People and our video on sewing trousers. An updated version of the video, Sew Pants That Fit & Flatter, with improved sound and color, is available for streaming or download at palmerpletschdigital.com
Also, Palmer/Pletsch teachers offer hands-on classes and workshops. Go to palmerpletsch.com for teachers, workshops, and resources. See the complete list of RESOURCES AND TUTORIALS at the end of this blog.
I’ll cover some of our most important tips in this blog.
Later in this blog, I’ll tell you about my top.
Look for a future blog on using an altered basic pant pattern to add your creative changes.
PATI’S TROUSER TIPS
We show you how to tissue-fit in the guidesheet. We also show you how to snip-mark the tucks, center front, and foldline for zipper underlap. These marks are important for accuracy and speed.
You will also need to fabric-fit. The guide will be helpful.
I am straighter in the center front than the pattern. In other words, I have a bit of a tummy. Straightening the center front just 3/8” gives me more width and a better crotch fit—if you can imagine that! We have a great photo of this on a man in our book Fit and Sew Custom Jeans.
Fabric fitting help in the book Pants for Real People:
We added a stay in the front to keep the pleats flat. It is designed with a little “play,” but I took it out and trimmed the extra off at the front. I don’t want any play in my pleats. Just stay flat, I say!
Another fit note. Check the depth of the pocket bag. On some fabrics the edge of the bag can show. Check when fabric-fitting. If it does, just sew the bag higher so it is not so deep.
Work on a flat surface and pin to keep the layers together. We took the play out of the stay because most people are straight in this area, and room for your hand isn’t usually needed. When you’re ready to sew the pocket bags together, just flip the leg up to uncover the bags underneath and pin them together. Don’t worry if the edges don’t match. Just pin flat and sew. Trim the edges even when you serge-finish or zigzag.
ZIPPERS ARE EASIER WITH BASTING TAPE
Paper-backed double-stick basting tape 1/8” wide is a sanity saver. Stick it to the edge of the zipper, then place the underlap on top and stick it in place. Sew.
For the overlap, stick the tape to the overlap fabric edge, not the zipper. Match the snips you made marking the center front and stick the overlap in place.
Another tape we use on fly front zippers is ½” Scotch Magic Tape. Place a lengthwise strip next to the center front and another length right next to it.
Our fly extensions are wide enough that you can skip a zipper step. Anchor a few pins through the layers to prevent scooting, and topstitch 1” from the center front, catching all the layers.
Here’s the deal, pressing is important. My old ham is handy when I need to raise an area off the pressing surface and to press darts. But straight seams should be pressed over a seam roll. I got a great new wooden seam stick that is wider and longer than a regular roll. Great for pant legs. Helen’s friend Greg Olsen makes these nice half dowel seam pressing stick. If interested contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The point presser/pounding block is handy for creasing pants and making sharp points at the waistband corner. I also use the clapper part after top pressing the pleats over a ham. The heat absorbs into the wood while the wood adds a little pressure to keep the pleats creased flat to the crotch area.
the trouser waistband
Butterick uses fusible interfacings in waistbands, but we prefer our favorite non-roll waistband, Palmer/Pletsch Perfect Waistbands. Here, I am including the full technique from Pants for Real People. The book includes in-depth info for fitting the waist as well. If you prefer an online, searchable flipbook instead of a printed book, we have this title available at palmerpletschdigital.com.
THE YARDAGE CHART ON THE BACK OF THE PATTERN ENVELOPE
MY crinkle rayon plaid TOP
Have you ever finished a garment and didn’t like it? We all have.
Don’t give up. Creativity is the mother of invention. Consider a different hem length, sleeve length, tapering seams, and so on. Think creatively.
This pattern is for knits because of the snug fit at the hemline, but I cut the top off below the waist as I’ve done before, so no problem using this woven crinkle rayon plaid. The pattern has a drop shoulder and sleeve variations. I cut mine for the short sleeve. I sewed bias trim to the sleeve just as I did to the neckline.
There was too much upper arm showing, so I decided I’d like it better with a ¾-length sleeve. To be different, I cut the lower sleeves on the bias and sewed them to the seam allowances where the trim was sewn on. Now I love it!!
neck and armhole trim tips
I made some samples to explain using bias trim. Cut bias strips the length of the edge you are sewing to.
Sew the straight grain ends together. Press the seam open.
Fold in half and baste raw edges together.
Then sew to your neckline and armhole edges following the basting line on the bias trim. Make sure to use a seam guide to make sure the trim is an even width everywhere.
Press seam away from bias and edgestitch on the garment next to the trim to hold seam allowances in place.
the finished bias trim on the neckline
I serged the hem edges using differential feed on the bias sleeve edge to gently ease it. The hem on the bottom of the top is straight grain so I left differential feed set to normal. I pressed up the hem allowance.
I hemmed the bottom of the top using a designer hem with a loose running stitch between the layers.
I hemmed the sleeves using Steam-a-Seam. I opened up the hem and stuck the paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side on top of the serging. Press on the paper very lightly. Remove paper. I turned up the hem and stuck the sticky web in place all the way around. Then I fused the hem. You can topstitch if desired
PRO TIP for seams and topstitching:
Yvonne Gutierrez, a Palmer/Pletsch CSI from Puerto Rico, came up with “Sewing with Colors” for students who have difficulty reading directions. The colors replace measurements. This stitching guide sticks to my sewing machine. I don’t know how I sewed straight in the past. Visit her website to see what she is up to: http://entretelaspr.com/index.php Her website is in English and Spanish.
Both the Sewing with Color stick-on stitching guide and the Steam-a-Seam are available at this link https://www.palmerpletsch.com/product-category/notions/
Search for Palmer/Pletsch Sewing Pants Tutorial and Fitting Pants Tutorial for clips from our digital video classes (both of which include trousers). You can also purchase the video classes to download or stream at palmerpletschdigital.com. The Perfect Waistband technique, fly front zipper, and pressing pleats are in the Pant Sewing video class.
On our website palmerpletsch.com
If you want to master fitting and sewing pants, check out our workshops and search for a trained instructor at palmerpletsch.com.
Pants for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto is the most complete guide to fitting and sewing many styles of pants with detailed instructions for many pant details, including 14 different pockets and many waistline treatments. Find the digital flipbook version HERE.
Palmer/Pletsch pant patterns include tissue markings to help you succeed as well as fit tips in the guidesheet, PLUS our best sewing instructions with lots of tips.