How to Maternify All Your Trousers

Yes, ALL of them.

Although if you want to be comfortable, maybe just ones made out of stretch fabric.

As flagged and promised in my earlier Expandable Belly Sewing post, I also made two pairs of Clover trousers, with some maternity modifications.

These are the maternity changes I made:

  1. Used ponte knit fabric, rather than woven with some stretch (as the pattern suggests);
  2. Didn’t bother with a zip
  3. Replaced waistband with a yoga waistband.

In short, as I had previously decided Clovers were just well fancy leggings, I simply treated them as wider-legged leggings.

I made a black pair and a dark brown pair from ponte I obtained from Darn Cheap Fabrics. Each fabric was quite different from the other, having different amounts of stretch (the black had less stretch), appearance (aside from the colour, the brown was more matte) and behaviour (the brown was much easier to work with).

For the yoga waistband, I simply cut a rectangle of fabric that was my pre-pregnancy waist measurement less a few inches (2 for the black, and 4 for the brown, based on my assessment of their stretchy-ness) by ten inches high, and then sewed the short ends together, folded the now cylindrical tube along its length and attached to the top of the sewn together trouser legs.

These saw me through the second trimester quite nicely, and now I’m in the third trimester, I can still quite comfortably wear the brown pair but only wear the black pair if I know that I only have to be in them for half a day.  They are a smidge too tight now, being a fabric with less stretch.  I suspect I’ll be able to wear both trousers post pregnancy, too, they’ll just look a little bit like trackydacks.

Colette Patterns' Clover trousers, in ponte, with maternity (yoga) waistbands.

Black is hard to photograph. Brown not much better.  You can see the difference different fabric makes, though, in the leg width.

However, as we are getting into summer, both are much too warm. I resolved to make some more legging-type trousers to wear for summer, and that I can hopefully wear post-crazy big belly. I had some grey knit fabric that is loosely woven. I had it in ridiculous metreage (perhaps 4?), which tells me I bought it from the Clear It outlet.  Also, there was a huge hole in the middle, so I had to cut around that.

I cut out a pair of Hudson pants (pattern by True Bias), again with a yoga waistband.  I had enough fabric left for a pair of leggings too but knew that if I simply cut boring leggings, I would end up with a weird amount of fabric which I might add to my scrap collection.  Enter the Steeplechase leggings pattern by Fehr Trade, with its well weird pattern piece that turns into a thoroughly awesome pair of leggings.  Again I cut a yoga waistband.

I don’t think I’ve told you, but I’d previously made 3 pairs of Hudsons: light grey cotton knit; green fleece and stretch denim-look knit.  I love the pattern – goes together really quickly, are definitely trackydacks but don’t look too sloppy. I will next have to try it in rayon, maybe.

True Bias' Hudson Pants, in grey knit with maternity (yoga) waistband.

Hudson Pants

I also haven’t told you I’d made Steeplechase leggings. Two pairs thereof. One out of stretch velvet, which was my wearable muslin and practise garment.  I chose the stretch velvet as it had exactly the same stretch properties as Supplex that I had obtained from Stretchtex for the express purpose of making activewear. I then proceeded to make a 3/4 length pair of Steeplechase leggings, with reflective piping in the curved seams.  They are quite awesome, but i haven’t been on my bike since the end of the first trimester (sad face).

Fehr Trade's Steeplechase leggings in grey knit, with maternity (yoga) waistband.

Steeplechase leggings: Yoke detail.

Finally, as I would be threading my ovelocker with grey, I found some grey ponte in my stash. I cannot recall where I bought it from, but suspect it was Rathdowne Remnants, and I may have hoped to make a Morris Blazer from it, until I decided it had too much stretch to work. From this, I cut a pair of jeggings, based on a pattern from Ottobre Women’s magazine released in Autumn 2014 (05-2014-13 Lampi jeggings). Again, I made a yoga waistband. I made real pockets, rather than mock ones but other than that, followed the sparse, but clear, instructions.

Ottobre 05/2014 'Lampi Leggings' in dark grey ponte (maybe?) with yellow contrast stitching.

The left is more true to colour.  Clearly, grey is also hard to photograph.

I really like Ottobre! This is my first made up garment from the magazines I own (3: Autumn 2014; Spring 2015 & Autumn 2015). I have now stopped my subscription, although I will get one more to complete the subscription when Spring 2016 is released.  I had hoped that because we are upside down from Finland, that I would have 6 months to make up the patterns that took my fancy from a given magazine.  Alas, not so, and therefore I won’t keep subscribing. There are plenty of patterns in my current collection to keep me going.  But I might get a subscription again when I am back at work and have a regular income.  I highly suspect I will add the children’s patterns to my future subscription, because I borrowed a bunch from the Fabulous Funkbunny Herself and they are so very wonderful.

What do I like about Ottobre? I like the aesthetic (simple, kinda classic, a little bit daggy … Not as ‘fashion forward’ as Burda!) and that there are a lot of great knit patterns and activewear patterns.  I think I originally decided to try a subscription for the fleece jacket pattern (05-2014-15), but I have not yet found a good source of suitable fleece (preferably Polartec) in Australia. I will need to, soon, however, as my current fleece jacket is, literally, falling apart! I want to sew, rather than buy, its replacement!


How to Accumulate Best Partner Points

I made more Jedediah trousers! I have even more planned. These trousers for my partner are the best. He won’t be wearing anything else, ever again.

You know I have previously made the most impractically coloured pair of Jedediah trousers for my partner? I thought he might like a pair that were more sensibly coloured. That if he spilled coffee on, it would not be instantly, ludicrously obvious. And perhaps also in the colour palette he likes to wear (we describe it as dressing like a tree. He likes to dress like a tree. Me, I like to dress like a 4 year old.) It’s possible that he also specifically requested a brown corduroy pair.

Anyway, I made an awesome fly zipper, and fabulous back pockets and I’m well smug that I made my partner another pair of trousers. Basically I just swan around the house grinning at how awesome I am. It’s insufferable but thankfully there are only the two of us so no one needs to know until I go telling the internet. Don’t tell anyone else, okay?

However, I still don’t like buttons and am still crap at buttonholes. I plan the Bruyere in the near future. I need to get over my general dislike of buttons and specific crapness at buttonholes.

Thread Theory’s pattern instructions and sewalong are wonderfully helpful. I read them both together as I worked away at constructing the trousers. I did this last time, too. The video for the fly instruction is great (I especially love Morgan’s taste in music), but I also like written instructions, so I cross-refer with a gazillion tutorials I have saved in Evernote.

Are you using Evernote? Remember bookmarking webpages and then never finding them again because you never organised your bookmarks? Yeah, me too. I’ve got my Evernote nicely organised, but you can just also do a simple google search of all your notes when you want to find something, so you could just dump your saves into one notebook and not worry about organising but that is not my way. I loves me some folders, whether they be actual or digital. Often, I try to re-bookmark something (because I will google instead of going to my Evernote to find info I’ve previously found because I don’t know why) and Evernote magically tells me not to. Thanks, Evernote. Also, if the website ever goes defunct or, as happened with one blog post I return to, the pictures stopped being hosted, you’ve captured it in Evernote and you do not have to rely on the vagaries of web-hosting mishaps. Last, I like that Evernote keeps the url link, so that you always know where you got it from, even if the host has gone AWOL, either forever or temporarily, when you need them most.

Anyway, that was a proselytising tangent about Evernote to tell you that I like these fly zipper tutorials:

I also cross-reference with the fly zipper tutorial in Christine Haynes’ Complete Photo Guide to Garment Construction.

Look, I know it’s a bit over the top, but I just like to have lots of information at the ready when I’m doing something I’m not super confident with. I can imagine the day when I make a fly zipper without referring to any of these excellent resources, but that’s because I have a good imagination, not because in reality I expect to reach that mythical land of sewing competence. Although, unlike last time, I did not unpick this fly zipper at all. Not once. Skilling up, yo.

I am also one of the those people who read through the entire instructions before starting. I have a degree of experience now, and an awareness of how I like to do things with the time that I have for sewing. I sew on weeknights, in snatches of time. Sometimes, I have glorious whole days devoted to sewing, and sometimes I have lovely days sewing with buddies, either at Social Sewing or sewing dates. But my sewing time is also time I fit in with the rest of my life. I like to hang out with my partner (surprise!); we have a lot of hobbies, I hike and bike and play board games, I like to read, I like to cook and eat, I like to garden, and I also like to sit on the sofa, unfocus my eyes and vague out. You should try it. It’s fun.

With sewing, I have this clear desire to MAKE SOMETHING, but when it comes to actually undertaking a task, I hesitate and procrastinate (which is also how I have come across all those excellent tutorials), unless I have a clear idea of what it is that I have to do, and roughly how long it will take me.

I am also getting much, much better at stopping before I’m tired because unpicking the sewing you did when you were sleepy and made wonky stitches is just silly. Wonky stitches because you’re not very skilled at handling the fabric is okay – you’ll learn to get better; but making an avoidable mistake just drives me bananas. I get really angry with myself, I have stern words and say things I don’t really mean using the cruellest words I can come up with, and then I stop talking to myself until I’ve received a genuine apology from me.

Sewing has discrete tasks, as well as cascading tasks. That is there are some things you can do separately from everything else but there are also things that have to be done before you do the next step (e.g. you should top stitch the back pocket before sewing them onto the back piece!) And there are some tasks that require more, or less, attention. I will only flat-fell a seam when I’m not tired, because the chance of cutting the wrong thing is high and if that wrong thing happens to be the outside fabric, it’s disastrous.

I like to identify the discrete, small tasks, and do them either beforehand or, if I only have short periods of time (say when partner is cooking fried rice for dinner and I know it will take roughly 15 minutes and I’m otherwise just hovering around drooling in hunger, I could get out of the kitchen and complete one little sewing task instead! The alternative is that I interfere. It’s quite endearing. Or I’ve got home from work late, and then I’ve cooked and/or cleaned and generally faffed and now it’s an hour until bedtime – can I do any sewing or should I just continue faffing about the house? If I know there is something discrete that I will probably complete in less than an hour, I’ll most likely start. Sometimes when I have this kind of time available to me, I go into my sewing room and stand in the middle and vague out. It’s … not very useful, but kinda fun and you should try it.)

This is pretty much a reminder for myself and works for me. But if it helps you too, smug happy dances for everybody!

Small discrete tasks:

  • Back pocket top stitching
  • Fly zipper – interface relevant pieces
  • Waistband
    • Interface
    • Press in half (lengthwise) & bind one edge
  • Belt loops
  • Trouser legs – Stretching various parts with your iron (Step 13)

{you need to do these things before you use them in the constructing part, but otherwise can do them whenever.

I *hate* interfacing, with petulant irrationality and I put this task off, but I have found that if I interface at a time completely separate from when I need to use the interfaced piece, my degree of hostility towards interfacing is much reduced.

Order of construction:

  • Overlock everything except the seams to be flat felled (back yoke / inseams – although if you do overlock them, it’s no biggie)
  • Front pockets
  • Back pockets
  • Back yoke
  • Sew flat fell inseam before side seam (easier to flat fell the inseam in this manner, and a flat fell inseam is nicer to wear even if a flat fell side seam is nicer to look at. I care more about how the garment feels on than how it looks.)
  • Sew side seam & crotch seam – baste stitches first and check fit
  • Sew side seam & crotch seam properly
  • Fly zipper time! (like hammer time but more stressful, and with hopefully no pants with crotch at the knees)
  • NOW finish & press side seam and crotch seam
  • Belt loops onto trousers
  • Waistband
  • Button and button-hole (sigh)


  • Do smug-happy dance.
  • Make partner wear trousers.
  • Do more smug-happy dancing.
  • Be crap at making partner wear trousers at a time when you can take photographs of him so you can post this post that you drafted like in the time of the dinosaurs.
  • Post your blog post anyway.
  • Do even more smug-happy dancing.

Trouser Saga

Oh the vexed matter of making one’s own trousers (or pants.  tee hee.)

Although I had wanted to sew clothes for a while, Sewaholic’s Thurlow trousers is what inspired me to properly commit to garment sewing.  I very much have a uniform: trousers and a shirt.  If it’s a workday, a button-up shirt; if it’s non-work, a t-shirt, and the trousers are more likely to be jeans.  I even have a particular style of trousers and jeans that I’ve worn since becoming an adult and which the vagaries of fashion have not moved me from.  Roughly straight legged, mid-rise, slash pockets.  There was a time in the late 90s, when trousers were cut exactly as I liked them.  Alas, that time is past.  I of course wear leggings for legging-relevant activities, and trackie-daks for trackie-dak related activities (like going to the shops in the middle of the night for ice-cream).  But even my preferred hiking trousers fit exactly this mold.

I have occasionally tried to branch out and wear other styles of trousers: higher-waisted, wider legged, harem (lordy, what was I thinking?) and fisherman (dear god why?). Those trousers invariably hung in my wardrobe watching their straight legged, mid-rise counterparts get worn to such an extent that they become threadbare and the knees permanently bag out.   

The Thurlows look exactly like the trouser I have always worn.

I made Thurlow shorts a long, long time ago.  I did a bunch of things wrong, but they were my practise pair, and I thought the fit was alright.  I recently (ish) made a muslin (!!) of the Thurlow trousers and they are huge on me.  Huge all round and especially huge in the derriere department (please read that with a terrible Pepe le Pew faux French accent).  I pinned out excess fabric and thought long and hard and researched longer and harder about the changes I would need to make to the pattern.  I had neglected to consider one key factor: Sewaholic does not design for me.  Tasia designs for the pear-shaped woman, and I am very happy she does. particularly as you with booty who have sewn her patterns appear to think that she does a sterling job.  I love the Alma.  The Cambie is also very sweet.  I am not a pear-shaped woman (mouthy stick with shoulders, remember?) and I decided maybe I needed to find another pattern.

There is no one, that I’m aware of, designing for a mouthy stick with shoulders, but that’s okay.  I’ll just try me some other patterns until something works.  I thought it might be easier to modify a different pattern, rather than work on the Thurlows.  But I do rather like the Thurlows so maybe one day I will return to it when I have more fitting expertise.  My unfinished projects are never discarded.  They visit a lovely resting place until I’m ready for them again.

I put my Thurlow muslin on to take photos for the blogpost, and lo and behold: it is not as bad as I remember.  I can only think magic sewing elves fixed it for me while it hung on my WIP rack.

There is someone designing for the petite woman, and she has designed a pair of trousers that look about right, but I have two issues: (1) I really don’t like the brand name and (2) though I’m short, I’m not sure I actually qualify as petite.  Petite is 5’4″ and under.  I’m just on that, but I’ve never really found RTW petite clothing fits me, so maybe I am proportioned averagely rather than petite-ly?  I’ll keep an eye on the patterns, but I just don’t feel persuaded enough to overcome my dislike of the brand name to purchase a pattern.  

Style Arc has a bunch of patterns that I’ve “pinned” (which being also a sewing term is practically like making them, right?) and I even bought the Audrey trousers, which came with a pair of free Lola trousers.  I’ve made the Lola but I did not like it.  Because it was not a pair of mid-rise, straight-legged trousers!  (I’m really an idiot, sometimes.)  And actually, the Lola trouser is a woven version of True Bias’ Hudson Pants (tee hee), which I have made three times and liked *a lot* but the Hudsons make no pretense of being anything other than fancy trackie-daks.  Woven trackie-daks? Not for me. I just cannot think of any occasion when I would wear them.  If it’s casual, I may as well wear trackie-daks.  If I want to look nice, well, I would not be wearing trackie-daks.  See?

I’ve settled on my next trouser pattern: the Sew Loft Emma pants (tee hee. Oh, you northern Americans.)  They’re like a skinnified Thurlow.

Muslin sewing is fast, though muslin photos are always terrible.  The Emma pants are pretty good! I was right (how gratifying). 

Sew Loft is a new to me pattern company, and I’m keen on these trousers and the Harper blouse, although I feel like a stranger to myself when I want to wear a sleeveless top.  The PDFs are well designed and not at all wasteful of paper or annoying to piece together.  I haven’t sewn anything yet, so I cannot say (nor am I particularly knowledgeable on the matter) whether the patterns are well drafted.

Finally, in my Epic Trouser Saga, I’ve signed on for a sewing class with Thread Den, here in Melbourne.  The class is called “Perfect Pants Pattern” (please interject tee hee in the correct place if you too are juvenile).  That’s a big call, no? We shall see, we shall see.  I’m fairly confident of my sewing (and unpicking and sewing again) skills, but I just feel all flummoxed when it comes to fitting.  I haven’t had any major issues so far: take in a bit here; let out a bit there, lengthen, or shorten and we’re done. And usually it is only one issue on a pattern.  But trousers have a whole lot of cascading issues and I think I need someone to hold my hand, and provide me lots of fortifying chocolate.

Wish me luck, and keep a beady eye on your feed readers for the next installment of Oanh’s Trouser Saga!  Coming probably not very soon to an internet near you!

Stone (Beige?) Jedediah Trousers

I am not slow at sewing, as such.  But it does take me a long time to complete a project.  There are a variety of reasons for this.  One is my attention span, which is kinda like a curious kitten’s.  Off I bounce to the next thing. Another is that I’m a starter of projects, and I have ideas falling out of my ears (usually my mouth, actually), but I just don’t seem to finish things. Yet another is that when I’m doing something new to me, I like to do a lot of reading and researching and pondering and procrastinating before I start.  

I am a multiple projects on the go person.  Some days, I don’t want to sit at my machine, so I’ll tape together those PDF patterns I’ve printed that are just piling themselves away on my shelf.  Some days, I want to just do something easy.  Some days, I want to learn something new.  There have to be multiple projects so I can do whatever it is that I think I want to do that day.  It’s not always the case that I’m right about myself, of course.  I’ll start something and think, ‘bleurgh! I’m going to iron instead.’ (That’s a bad day indeed.)

So, trousers for my Partner.  I echo everyone else’s positive impressions of Thread Theory’s design, instructions and the sewalong.  I’m glad it took me forever to get started on these trousers, because I had the benefit of the sewalong to guide me at all the points I found perplexing (pretty much everything; but that’s my fault and not the fault of the pattern).

I’m especially enamoured of Thread Theory’s designs because Matt’s figure is not unlike my Partner’s: tall and skinny.  I’m hopeful therefore that all the patterns will be easy to fit.

I like sewing for other people (but only if they don’t have an expectation that they’ll get anything from me anytime soon…) because I do a much better job than for myself.  

To wit:

I measured the entire flat pattern, comparing against my partner’s measurements and the measurements for a pair of his trousers.

I basted the trousers together for an initial fit.

I modified the trousers (took in about an inch from the hip area on the back leg pieces) and the trouser pattern (because there will be more)

I unpicked the fly on these trousers four times before I was happy! Four times! Can you fathom it? I did still grumble each time that I was unpicking, and it did mean I did the fly over several evenings because when I stuffed up and realised I had to unpick, I put the trousers down (the alternative was to throw them against a wall or tear them apart with my teeth).  The bonus from all that frustration was I cut out and sewed up another Lady Skater Belladone mashup as my calming “I can too sew” project amidst “the what on earth am I doing trying to sew a pair of trousers for him” project.

Tidy insides and well-done fly! Also, his insides match my Forest Jewels Belladone.  I have to contrive a way for us both to wear these at the same time so I can wander around, all chuffed at us *secretly matching*.

But look! A pair of trousers! That fit! That he says he’ll wear, and he even likes the light beige / stone / hoo boy is it ever going to get dirty coloured trousers.

Next, a shirt.

And then he won’t ever have to go shopping again.  He’ll just have to ask me real nice like if I will please pretty please sew him something to wear because everything else is falling apart, or threaten me with purchasing unethical, fast fashion.  Wait 6 months! I shall shout! Don’t buy anything unethical! Give me 6 months to make you some thoroughly slow fashioned clothes.  Handmade, with love and swear words, by me.