My success is cannot be attributed to my skill. I think it was 85% pattern and 15% fabric. Here's the magic pattern:
It's Simplicity 2860, which is one of their "Amazing Fit" patterns that I bought several months ago when I was knee-deep in trying to fit my jeans. I've used their skirt Amazing Fit pattern number 1541 which I've made twice - it's a great pattern and fits well. So I was hoping the "Amazing Fit" for pants would be a home run too.
This pattern is your basic trousers pattern - the waistline is 1/2 inch below your natural waist, has fairly wide legs, a fly front, and belt loops. No pockets - which was a plus in my mind because I could concentrate on fit instead of a lot of construction details.
That's the pattern. As for the fabric, I used a wool blend I got from Fabric Mart, the fabric on the right:
It's a greenish tweed that I originally planned to use for the Tippi Hedren suit, but when it arrived I thought it would be less than flattering for my coloring. But for essentially a wearable muslin for trousers (the colors aren't near my face), I thought this could work.
I'll rush to the end and show you the awesome results - the trousers weren't hemmed yet (just pinned up) and I took the photos at night because I was so excited:
I'm starting to be a believer on these "Amazing Fit" patterns. One advantage is that they aren't drafted with excessive ease like most Big Four patterns. The garment measurements are provided on the pattern and the envelope and they are for real.
Also, the patterns are drafted for 1 inch seam allowances in certain places (like the side seams) so you can make adjustments. Essentially, the instructions take you step by step on how to make a muslin, without actually informing you that you are making a muslin. For example, the instructions have you basting your seams, then trying on, adjusting, and then sewing for real, etc. I can imagine how Simplicity came up with this "Amazing Fit" series in an executive meeting:
Simplicity executive # 1: "We are getting complaints that our patterns don't fit our customers. What can we do about it?"
Executive # 2: "Well, every body is different. Our patterns aren't going to fit every person right out of the envelope without some adjustment."
Executive # 3: "That's why the customers need to make a muslin first."
Executive # 1: "But no one does. So we are getting complaints. How can we change this?"
Executive # 2: I know! We'll fool 'em into making a muslin. We'll write instructions on how to make a muslin without telling them they are making a muslin. We can even draft the patterns with extra wide seam allowances in key areas in order to adjust the fit!"
Executive # 1: "Excellent idea, let's get lunch."
I have to applaud the effort. It fooled me. The making of these pants wasn't without some mishaps however. The fly was disconcerting, and I had some problems; I finally realized that the fly was opposite to how I had been making my jeans. These trousers had the fly on the right side (the ladies' side), while jeans flies are on the left (the men's side). My right brain and left brain were all confused. Also, I wouldn't say the fly instructions are a model of clarity. If you haven't done a lot of fly zippers, I would recommend finding a different set to follow.
It was also a PITA to re-sew all those basted seams once I had confirmed the fit was good. I left the basting in since I figured no one would notice.
I really liked how the belt loops were attached on these trousers - the top of the belt loops were sandwiched between the waistband and the waistband facing. The bottom of the belt loops were sewn into the seam between the waistband and the legs of the trousers. I know some folks don't care for this method, but after trying to sew on heavy denim belt loops for jeans, this method was so, so easy.
The instructions have you finish the bottom of the waistband facing with purchased 1/4 inch double folded binding tape, which I have seen on ready to wear, particularly on men's khaki's or chinos. Several folks who reviewed this pattern said they skipped this because they were afraid it would be too bulky, but I decided to test this theory, and give it a go. I found getting the binding tape sewn on a bit tricky, but I finally got the hang of it. In the end, the binding tape wasn't too bulky and gave the inside a nice clean finish. I will probably start doing this on my skirt waistband facings as well.
I can't recommend this pattern highly enough. Just make sure you find the right fabric for it. My fabric was a "wool blend". I think it had rayon in it (for drape) and polyester (because it doesn't wrinkle very much). A stiff wool isn't going to give you the best result - I'd look for a blend that has drape and isn't itchy. Also, these pants are drafted for non-stretch fabrics. If you get something with lycra or spandex, you probably won't be happy with the results.
These are a welcome addition to my wardrobe because I have no winter trousers - all my trousers have been long since donated because they were so old. Another pair will help me get through this winter season!