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!

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

Also, Palmer/Pletsch teachers offer hands-on classes and workshops. Go to 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.


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.

Straighten the center front on the trouser pattern piece.

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.

front stay and pocket bags in trouser


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.

Use basting tape for zipper placement.

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.     

Scotch Magic Tape on fly front zippers


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

pressing using a half dowel seam pressing stick

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.

using the point presser/pounding block
pressing pleats

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


Yardage chart on back of envelope of trouser pattern B6878
Pati Palmer wearing a plaid crinkle rayon dolman top

MY crinkle rayon plaid TOP

B6854 is a fabulous pattern for an easy-sew, easy-fit loose dolman-sleeve top. Helen Bartley and I have sewn it many times. See our 2019 blog

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!!         

sleeve design on dolman top

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.

bias trim sample
bias trim sample

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.


Edgestitch the bias trim.

the finished bias trim on the neckline

finished bias trim on 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

using Steam-a-Seam to hem the top
finished hem

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:  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

Sewing With Colors



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 The Perfect Waistband technique, fly front zipper, and pressing pleats are in the Pant Sewing video class.

On our website


If you want to master fitting and sewing pants, check out our workshops and search for a trained instructor at


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.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. iQwest

    Love the thread pattern and colors. I’m all about loose fitting comfort as well. I’ve never like the feeling of clothes painted on me. Great post!

  2. Laten

    Great blog! Pati – Do you line your slacks?

    1. Pati Palmer

      Yes, I did. I decided that they would wrinkle less and feel great lined, but I did worry about them being too warm. I just won’t wear them when it is hot!! Pati

  3. Dara

    Thanks Patti. I have your book, but its so much clearer now.

  4. Mimi Routh

    Who am I trying to impress if I ALWAYS wear a top that is at least hipbone length!!! I’m not in 4-H and I do’t tuck in a silk shirt and go buying a cutesy little belt to put thru loops. I will sew pull-on pants and use the saved time to take walks and go to museums. I prefer the look of a slim pant that is not too long. I trip on wide pants. As for the top, it is butt-ugly! I want my shoulder seams at the shoulder, or I will choose raglan lines. You were a cute young woman, and I had all your books. Now you can market to a whole new crop of foolish women who MUST prove they can do all those expensive little touches. Good for all of you. I’m outta here! I WILL be sewing jackets, tops and dresses that have the full bust pattern piece. I might be doing slit pockets, pin-tucks or insertion up top where it shows.

    1. Pati Palmer

      I am with you in many ways. I have to realize my audience is varied so I do many different things, but mainly classics. My daughter was born when I was 40 and she just turned 37. Don’t do the math! Ha. Pati

  5. Janie

    I for one appreciate the creativity and clarity in the suggestions in this blog. I honestly would have looked past this pattern, but I am now interested in trying it. I love the shoulder treatment in that top; not sure I can pull it off the way Pati did but it is really individual. And as for the young people in 4H—they are our present and future. Playing with fashion is an All-American pasttime. If I hadn’t grown up in the heart of the city, I would have loved 4H!!

    1. Pati Palmer

      I was a 4-er in a rural county in Oregon, then I was a 4-H leader in Portland, Or. I loved the 7-13 year olds in my sewing club including my daughter. We had a great time and many blue ribbons at the fair. Make the top per the pattern in a knit and sew the side seams really snug at the bottom so you can pull it up to sit on your hips. See our previous blog featuring the many looks of this top.

  6. Janie

    Whoops! Only one “t” in pastime. Sorry for the typo!

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