Monday, March 30, 2009

Marlene's Trousers

I finished the first pair of trousers for my swap, and it was the first time I had used a Burda (7944) trouser pattern. So this was a fun project to tackle. First note: I do not fit Burda trousers.

This was something I had wanting to make for a long time, since my work wardrobe is casual, which has come to mean that I wear a lot of jeans. While this isn't really a bad thing, I do like wearing something a bit nicer and given the cut of jeans today sometimes I have a hard time keeping my tops tucked in. So a pair of cords that are actually at my waist was appealing.
The fabric is a navy corduroy with a tan base color. (Photographing corduroy is a challenge, so bear with me on some of the photos) I chose a cotton thread to match the base tan color on the fabric, and planned to do a lot of topstitching to give the feel of a pair of vintage-styled jeans. The pattern is actually called Marlene Dietrich by Burda, which fit well into my retro theme.

The first issue I ran into was that the rise was not nearly deep enough for me. After basting the waistband in place, it seemed that it was sitting too high as well. So I addressed the issue from two fronts: I deepened the bottom of the center seam and also shortened the darts at the back. This allowed the trousers to ride lower which was a much better fit. For good measure, I let out the side seam at the hip which gave a bit of wearing ease.

After adjusting for fit, I tried them on again, to find that with the wide waistband the trousers were 2" above my natural waist. I did appreciate the irony that in trying to avoid low rise jeans I had made a pair of high rise cords, but I knew that these would end up at the bottom of my dresser drawer if I didn't adjust the waist. First I cut 1/2" off the top of the trousers themselves. I then re-drew the waistband pieces and eliminated 3/8" on both the top and bottom. This worked well, and now the top of the waistband is a scant 1/2" above natural waist, which is a much more comfortable style for me.
Besides fit issues, I made a few design changes as well. Because I just can't leave anything alone; it's a curse. First of all, I have no idea why anyone would put pleats in a pair of trousers. Why oh why would anyone want to add fullness there? This was an easy fix, just take a tuck in the pattern tissue before cutting.
When cutting these out, I was undecided about whether to leave the cuff in the leg so I cut the full length. After I finished them, I decided to make at deep hem (5") but no cuff. I did leave the fabric though so I can adjust that later if I wish.
My third adjustment was just a change in method; instead of making a stitched buttonhole for the tab to pass through I used a bound buttonhole. Given the nature of the material, I was concerned that a stitched buttonhole would eventually unravel at the ends. Also, given that I was using contrast thread, I didn't want to add a focal point which could take away from the main detail of the trousers, the tabs.

I am very pleased with the outcome, and have already worn these to work twice so they definately fit into my 'real life' wardrobe. There were some pleasant surprises along the way, such as having the tab closure work on its own without any hidden buttons or snaps. I was worried that the off-center buttons would make the center front bow out but it lays perfectly. But after all the tweaking I probably won't make a second pair. Also, they are unique enough that they aren't the type of garment I would want three of.
Next up: the jacket. I really want to wear this one soon.

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