Button down the hatches

Trousers seem to be on my crafty mind at the moment. I made a few pairs of jeans this summer and I got the urge to make some button-front trousers in the vein of the ubiquitous Lander pants.

We decided to go to Spain when it finally seemed that restrictions were lifting and we had hope of an end to the Panorama. Obviously, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t descend into a pre-holiday sewing frenzy. I decided I wanted a pair of casual trousers and shorts to take with me on our trip.

Last year I did a bit of experimental machine dyeing and I had a couple of pieces of fabric to use. I had basically put a machine load of different fabrics – some cotton sheeting, some jersey and some polycotton twill – and added a packet of dark green dye. Polyester really needs to be dyed on the stove to maintain a high heat but I didn’t want to risk trashing my house so I had stuck to the machine. The result was a pale green which I didn’t object to. I thought it would be great for summer trousers.

I had done another batch with purple dye which yielded a lovely lilac colour on the cut of linen that I used.

I’ve been using the PatternLab system to create my own blocks and I started there. I used the block that I made my caramel jumpsuit from back in 2019. The block is for a basic pair of zip fly trousers with patch pockets. I lengthened them and added a centimetre to the side seam as I wanted them to be loose-fitting.

I added slanted patch pockets on the front and jeans-style back pockets. Then a wide waistband and belt loops. The front patch pockets are applied by finishing the opening then stitching the curve to the trouser front. The top and sides are sewn into the waistband and side seam respectively. I wanted a button fly on these and set about improvising how to turn a zip fly into button-ups. I’ve been making jeans over the summer and I felt that I had got my head around fly fronted trousers which is something that had filled me with a certain amount of dread. I now feel relatively confident with them as I finally understand the construction. I couldn’t really visualise the way the pieces went together and that meant I just couldn’t confidently construct them.

In many trouser patterns, the fly is part of the main front piece. To make a button fly, the fly piece is cut separate from the main trouser front. Three pieces are cut, one piece is attached to the left front and will have the buttonholes on it. I stitched two fly pieces together to form the fly shield where the buttons will go. I made a fly template and used it for marking with a frixion pen where to topstitch as well as for cutting the piece. I finished these with antique brass effect rivet buttons attached with pliers like poppers.

Keyhole buttonholes are my current favourite so I used those and the attached metallic rivet buttons for a nice finish. I quite like the frayed look that I’ve seen about so I decided to try this. I really like it but I was in multiple minds about how long my trousers should be – ankle length? longer? or shorter?

Both pairs were really great for the casual holiday wear that I wanted. There are a few things I have to sort out though. I’m going to have to overdye the lilac shorts because the colour turned out really patchy as you can see in the photos. Of course, as I finished making these the night before we were due to travel, I relied on them being taken as a vaguely random tie-dye-adjacent trend. The waistband is a bit floppy as well so I’ll need to investigate sturdier interfacing.

I also decided that while the trousers were comfortable, they look a bit baggy – they seemed to grow over time, so next time I’ll shave off a bit from the side and maybe the front dart needs to be bigger. I’ll try a sturdier fabric too to give a bit more body.

So overall another holiday sewing frenzy win. Converting a zip fly to a button fly was not as hard as it appeared initially, once I had got my head around the fly construction.

How long/short should unfinished/frayed jeans be? Asking for a friend…

Thanks for dropping by,

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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