Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Three New Pairs of Pants…Tri-sers?

So over the course of a week, I made myself three pairs of skinny pants.

Way back in… APRIL!

(I am so far behind in blogging!)


Three pairs of skinny pants. Same pattern, different fabrics.

I needed some more work pants for my part-time job at the fabric store and I decided I’d make some because 1) I hate pants shopping and 2) pants are easy to sew once you have a well-fitting pattern.

I’ve never really bothered to draft myself a custom pants sloper because I’ve always been able to find jeans that fit me if I search long enough in stores.

My biggest problem with ready-to-wear (RTW) trousers is the fit of the waistband. Most waistbands seem to be cut like funnels – hips and crotch curve might be perfect but the back waistband majorly gaps on me. (I have, however, found a couple of brands and specific style numbers in those brands that actually fit well, even in the waistband.)

So I pulled out Butterick pattern 5682, traced it in my size according to the size chart, and then compared it to two pairs (different brands) of store-bought skinny jeans that fit me really well.


I turned my RTW jeans inside-out and put one leg inside the other for easier comparison to the paper pattern.

I don’t remember all the exact changes I made, but the main differences between the RTW and paper pattern were the leg width, the height of the waistband (especially in the front), the back pocket size, and the crotch curve.

I needed to trim down the crotch curve – more noticeably at center back than front. If you can get the crotch curve right, that’s half the battle for fitting a pair of trousers!


Pattern altered based on my store-bought jeans.

The pattern only included one pocket size, which meant that it was proportionally wrong for most of the sizes in the envelope. Proper pocket proportion and placement is important! (Afterall, you don’t want “gateway mom jeans” because of “dinosauric pockets”.)

So I reduced the pocket size to match my RTW skinnies and referred to the factory placement when making my own.


New cutting and stitching lines drawn on pocket pattern piece.

With my pattern corrected well enough on paper, I pulled out some black metallic stretch denim I had. There was enough yardage to re-cut if I needed any major alterations, but I was fairly certain the fit would be close enough to the RTW jeans I like.


This denim is super sparkly and is a solid silver on the back. I actually considered making them with the silver side for a while.

I decided to use some fun cotton fabric to line the front pockets. No one will ever see it but I know it’s there! =)


The Pink Panther in my pockets! (I’ll be blogging another outfit with this fabric later.)

After a quick assembly and matching the details on my RTW pairs, I had a pretty good first pair.


The initial look at the backside in the mirror revealed I needed to drop the waistband a little at center back, which I did after this photo was taken.

I ended up adding half an inch to the hem length on the pattern but the black pair is just long enough. I also curved the waistband a little more to prevent my next pairs from having the slight gap at center back that the black pair has.

Knowing that I never tuck my shirts in, especially when wearing skinny pants, I called the metallic black pair “good enough”…


…and moved on to a second pair – this time in a floral print stretch jacquard:


Floral print stretch jacquard fabric. I like the shiny yet subtle animal print weave of this jacquard, which is more noticeable on the back.

I carefully cut the fabric so the stripey-ness of the floral print would match across the legs and then broke up the print on my tush with intentionally unmatched pockets – something that will hardly ever be seen because of that untucked shirt thing, but still.


Intentionally unmatched back pockets.


Level print placement across both legs. And the surprise print matching on the inseam’s purple flower!

I still had one 3-inch metal fly zipper left, so I decided to make a third pair of skinny pants out of some textured stretch jacquard. (I love love love this fabric! You will be seeing it again because I bought it in 4 different colors.)


Teal stretch jacquard for skinny pants number three!

I didn’t do anything fun for the pockets on my floral print pants because the pants themselves where fun enough. I decided the teal pants needed interesting pockets though.

I had three good options in my cotton print stash – Tube map, tiny turtles, and bigger happy turtles. So I turned to Instagram/Twitter for a vote.


Tiny turtles won the vote, so in my pockets they went!

My first try-on and I think I finally got the waistband curve exactly right! Third time’s a charm and all that. This pair of pants is definitely the most comfortable.


Not-so-great mirror-selfie before I put a button on (the waistband is just pinned closed in this photo).

I did more topstitching detail on my teal pants than I did on the other two pairs. I also cut them out one layer of fabric at a time in order to keep the textured design evenly horizontal across each piece – typical making-things-overly-complicated-just-because-I-can mode of operation.


You can’t really see it because of the textured nature of the fabric, but I like how finished the topstitching makes them look. And see! horizontal texture matching across the inseam! No one will notice, but it makes me happy.

Here’s a back view of the finished teal pants. (After all the picture sorting and editing, I’m reeeally tired of looking at my butt!)


This photo confirms what I suspected after wearing them a few times, I need to take a little out of the back yoke curve (see the weird wrinkle just under the waistband on the right?). Thankfully, that whole untucked shirt thing means no one will really see this, except in this photo.

Pair number four will be perfect – if I ever decide I need to make myself another! I went ahead and corrected the pattern just in case.


Sneak peek of a button-up top I made soon after the pants.

I chose to mimic the look of the buttonholes on my RTW jeans. I made the loop by tracing around the shank of the jeans tack button and bringing it to a point. I used some embroidery/cross-stitch thread and just zig-zag stitched over it following the line I drew.


Faking a RTW jeans buttonhole without using a buttonhole setting on my machine.

I’ve been wearing all three pairs of skinny pants a lot for my retail job at the fabric store. The metallic black pair is a little too warm in the summer (all that metal retains body-heat and reflects it back) but it’s a nice basic without being boring because of the sparkle. The floral pair is just plain fun & trendy. And the teal pair is super comfortable and probably my favorite.


While the skinny pants look great with heels, let’s face it, this is how I wear all of them most of the time. (Yes, yes, I do have 3 pairs of the same shoes in different colors.)

So anyway, I made some pants. Trousers. Whatever.

And it took me so long to blog them, that it seems everyone else in the online sewing community has now made and blogged their own in the meantime! Ahead, but behind all at the same time.

37 responses to “Three New Pairs of Pants…Tri-sers?

  1. Barbara August 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

    All three pants are so cute! Love ’em!

  2. thevintagetraveler August 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

    It would have never occurred to me to match up the lines of flowers, but you were right. I love that pair so much. I love your “making-things-overly-complicated-just-because-I-can” attitude!

  3. Fifty Dresses August 8, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I always learn some great tips from your posts – like turning one leg of RTW pants into the other to make comparing them to a pattern easier and more precise! Love these pants, all of them, but especially the floral ones!

    • Brooke August 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

      I’m so glad you like my tips… and my pants! Thanks! I’ve got a post started that will be a collection of sewing tips in photos – haven’t decided if it will be the next one published or not.

  4. Traci Hutton August 8, 2014 at 11:44 am

    They all look great. Kudos for having great success. Last time I made pants from an exhisting pair, which I took apart, for some reason, less than desired results were achieved. You have great tenacity to perfect your patterns the way they should. You are a great inspiration and teacher with sharing your trials and errors. Keep up the good work. Both in your personal sewing and your great pictures and explanations of what you do.

  5. sj kurtz August 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Sewing jeans is addicting; always one easy edit to make them perfect, and perfect fitting jeans are so damn comfortable. Cannot make just one.

    The fit starts in the crotch seam and works out from there; consider it a Full Rear Alteration, like a Full Bust Alteration. The gap in the center back can be eliminated by raising the waistband seam while you close up the center seam. A yoke is a dart where much can happen.

    The addiction stopped for the summer while I get rid of the post smoking weight gain. But I have some beautiful japanese denim waiting. I did tire of taking butt selfies to check the fit, but it works.

    • Brooke August 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Yes, the yoke is an interesting part of the jeans pattern. It was definitely too extreme of a curve for me as the pattern was originally printed, but it took me 3 pairs to figure out all the tweaks necessary. If only it were as easy to fit yourself as it is to fit another person! Wish I could just remove my butt and place it on the table for a fitting, hehe.

  6. Michelle August 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I need to get on learning to make pants that are not knit yoga style. You have inspired me! You look great. And the unique fabric choice makes it that much better.

    • Brooke August 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Thank you! It is fun to chose fabric that isn’t exactly the norm!

      Don’t be scared of making pants – focus on what you have that fits well and you can skip a lot of the trial and error of a pattern as it is originally printed. If you can make knit yoga pants you can definitely make woven or stretch woven jeans. =)

  7. Tia Dia August 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    They look wonderful. Amazing how you can have three totally different pairs from the same pattern. Love the trio.

    • Brooke August 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Thank you! It’s so nice to be able to use such different fabrics – makes it seem like I’m not making the exact same thing over and over.

  8. IngeMaakt August 9, 2014 at 5:18 am

    these are some great pairs of pants Brooke! And thanks for pointing out that post about the back pockets, very interesting. I decided that I now have more than enough dresses and skirts and after our holidays I am going to make pants. Not sure wheter they will be jeans or trousers or whatever, but they will be pants that are not shorts. I only hope I can get them to look as good as yours!

    • Brooke August 9, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Thanks! Your dress making & fitting skills make you more than ready for making & fitting pants! If you have any store-bought pants or even shorts that fit well in the crotch – you have a great starting point. Can’t wait to see what you make! =)

  9. Gjeometry August 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Lovely trousers Brooke!! And, Pink Panther Pockets! Awesome. 🙂 Yes, I noticed on patterns too that sometimes, they have the same sized pockets for all sizes. But, not always, they sometimes have one size for, say 6 to 12 and one size for 14 to 20. I find that as well, with RTW stretch jeans/pants that after I wear them, I often get the sagging in the back yoke. I think this is likely due to the fact that I am short-waisted and there is too much fabric there? I love the fabric and top stitching on your emerald pair. so professional!

    • Brooke August 9, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Thank you! Gotta have fun pockets when something is so boringly basic! I have to trick myself into doing the “practical” sewing. =)

      Yes, the yoke definitely has a little more fabric than I need in it. It wasn’t as noticeable on the first two pairs because the fabrics were a little different drape, but I knew from my first comparison of the RTW to the pattern that the yoke piece had a more extreme curve than I needed. I reduced the curve before making the first pair but I obviously didn’t reduce it enough. I guess I just don’t have as curvy a bootie as the pattern was drafted for.

      I so wish we lived close to each other – we’d be able to fit our patterns in half the time considering how similarly we are built!

      • Gjeometry August 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

        I was TOTALLY just thinking that!! I’d love to have a ‘fitting’ buddy. Shucks…..well, I’m totally open for a visit in either direction. Mi casa es su casa.

      • Brooke August 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm

        We really should try to get together at some point! I’ve even got a “guest room” – granted it’s currently filled with unorganized fabric and craft stuff, but that can all move elsewhere. =)

      • Gjeometry August 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

        I’m totally down with that! Email me. You know, I’ve never been to Texas and it’s on the Top Ten, for sure. The question of the day is: How does Wensley enjoy cats? (Kitty LOVES dogs – although not always the biggest fan of other cats).

      • Brooke August 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

        I have no idea how Wensley is with cats. I’ll email you in a bit. =)

  10. Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!! August 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    I have yet to make myself some jeans, although I have all the fabric and supplies. It’s on my “sewing to do list”! Someday! Yours look great!

  11. fabrickated August 11, 2014 at 4:53 am

    I love your attention to detail – shrinking the pocket, the button hole and the fitting. And you know what I actually prefer them with flat shoes – I think skinniest look cute with ballet flats.

  12. jay August 11, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Great work, I love the fabric choices.

  13. Athene August 12, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Hehe I should have known that “dinosauric pockets” would eventually get a mention. 🙂

  14. Chuleenan - C Sews August 13, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Love the pants – and your fabric choices. The floral print is so pretty! And really like that teal fabric – the textured design makes it special. Thanks for the buttonhole tip – especially useful when I have a machine that only makes one type of buttonhole. I’ll keep this in mind should I ever make a pair of jeans – pants or skirt. I do have some stretch denim sitting around. 😉

    • Brooke August 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Thank you! I have a skirt planned for the rest of the teal fabric and a dress with the rest of the floral. Can’t wait to see what you make with your stretch denim – glad you like the buttonhole tip! =)

  15. laurahoj August 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I really like the floral pants on you! The teal pants with that button down you made look fabulous!!

  16. Sandra (Sewist-Stitch) August 19, 2014 at 4:57 am

    I love your pants, my fav are the floral but the texture on the teal is way cool as well. I’ve made a few Jalie Jeans and some leggings but I’m really wanting to get my head around fitting pants properly – off to read more about that.

  17. Pingback: And, Your Favourite Fabric IS….(ratta tatta tatta tat – that’s a drum role, not machine gun fire) | Gjeometry

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