Morella Pants

So that was quite a start to the year. Not exactly surprising, but unexpected. I’m talking of course about Joel Kim Booster’s saucy take on Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me re: men sewing. Just kidding! My capitol got sacked! Anyway – pants!!

I love my normal high, hard, tight pants, but please welcome to the closet, my first pair of woven lounge pants. I sewed them in November (the week of the US election, in fact) and I’ve been wearing them indoors a lot, and outdoors whenever it’s warm enough. These are the Pauline Alice Morella pants. The only version of them seemingly anywhere is a terrific ramie pair by Heathery Makes. She was the first share-r of this pattern and a pants pioneer!

I find my usual pants totally comfortable under usual circumstances, but I was inspired to try the trend for comfy-waist pants because I had shingles. People! Yuck!! In addition to the skin stuff on my belly and back, my nearby lymph nodes hurt like a fresh bruise, and all my pants pressed on both. I sewed these post-shingles (I’m better now, whoo) but it’s nice to have variety.

I picked this pattern because the pockets both intrigued and confused me. I’m lucky that Heather made and shared her pair, because I followed her advice and also because it gave me faith these pockets would work out. I couldn’t visualize the process, not one little bit. That said, it worked great! The first pocket was a fun challenge and a journey of faith that took about an hour. I sewed the second pocket in half that time, and I didn’t need the directions. It’s a cool technique! I like sewing that uses precise measuring and clipping. It’s high-stakes. Perfect for adrenaline junkies. Jason Statham clips to but not through the stitching line, all day, every day. 

I still couldn’t describe precisely how it’s undertaken – definitely one of those things that’s easier to do than say – but here’s my notes. One, yes, you should construct the whole back of the pants first. It seems like a lot of extra fabric to have flapping around, but it’s necessary. Two, when matching the pants front + pocket to the pants back – you need to flip the pocket. I know that doesn’t make sense now, but hopefully it will at the time. It’s not exactly “The only water in the forest is the river”, but flip the pocket.

I sewed the pocket corners in a single pass (as Heather recommended), and I reinforced the corners with a second line of stitching before clipping. This will hopefully keep them intact for a long time to come, and also made it easier to see where to cut. My thread was a perfect match for the wrong side of the fabric. I often try to match from my existing thread rack, but just-right tone-on-tone makes me purr.

I had some uncharacteristic anxiety about the outseam where it meets the pocket opening (hint: it wasn’t actually about the outseam, cough cough election week). I stitched that last inch three or more times. I tried a vertical and horizontal bartack and unpicked both. Eventually I added a rivet, so I wouldn’t keep thinking about popping that corner. I know, rivets in a lounge pant? It’s like walnuts in a brownie (controversial!). But I couldn’t relax in these while plagued by visions of Murray Slaughter ripping off Ted Baxter’s suit pocket. Now I can stick my hands in my pockets worry-free. Next time I sew Morellas I’d like to topstitch the pocket openings, since that edge puffs up a little, but I used self-fabric for the pocket so it’s pretty inoffensive anyway.

The elastic waist was almost my downfall! My piece of elastic was 18” long, 1” shorter than my size called for. I tried several different installation methods, none of which worked (and I had the unpicked threadball to prove it), until I remembered the True Bias Emerson pants technique. It’s simply the best way of adding elastic to a partially-elasticated waistband (mine has a folded, finished edge though)! Plus, if you want to extend the usability of your pants, you can leave extra elastic poking out past the stitch line, un-stretched, hidden by the front facing, and have inches for later. Or you could tighten it later, though that’s never been my direction of change.

I didn’t have wide enough elastic so I zig-zagged two narrower pieces together along their shared length. Predictably, the elastic wants to roll and fold, but I put a vertical line of stitching at the center back, and that keeps it flat.

I also interfaced the front self-facing as per Heather. Excellent suggestion.

The only thing I had to find out for myself was fabric requirements – Pauline Alice only lists yardage for 54” wide fabric, and I really wanted to use this Essex linen/cotton blend (Driftless: Downstream in Roasted Pecan), which is only 45” wide. I sewed a straight size 44. Sidebar, I don’t have the faintest idea of how to grade this pattern through the waist/hips. Anyway, I bought 2 2/3 yards, and I have a good few extra inches. Since I cut the back waistband on the cross-grain, I could have squeaked this out of 2 ½ yards but better safe than sorry! The pattern pieces are a little cumbersome, so I have largish scraps leftover. This fabric is great for lightweight pants (and beautiful, in my opinion), but it might be a little scratchy for masks. I’ll figure out something to use the scraps for, though!

I’d like to make a pair of these in French terry, maybe with cuffs instead of hems. They’re sweat-pants-comfy already, why not add a little sweat-pants-cozy.

Anyway, I know the home sewist is spoiled for choice right now with elastic-waist pants, but I think this pattern has a little something extra. I recommend it! If you try it and you have questions about the pockets, hit me up. And stay comfy out there!

Also – Heather and I both plan on sharing overalls in February, which she’s brilliantly dubbed “Over all this 2020 nonsense”. And I will amend slightly to add “And the first week of 2021 too”. Feel free to join us. 😀

Pattern: Pauline Alice Morella pants

Pattern cost: $9.76

Size: 44; elastic for the waist shortened to 18”

Supplies: 2 2/3 yards of Kaufman Essex cotton/linen; Driftless, Fern in Roasted Pecan, $35.91, Gather Here; thread, $2.09, Michael’s; elastic, rivets from stash

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $47.76

17 thoughts on “Morella Pants

  1. Cute pants. Love the elastic back, plain front – I have a Vogue pant with similar design that really works well. When I saw this pattern I wondered how the pockets would work with my shape (small waist and bigger hips/thighs) . I figured they’d bag out a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The pockets do make little ‘wings’; I think they’d do that for most builds, given where the elastic attaches. I wouldn’t mind exaggerating the effect even further (I suspect I would have embraced jodhpurs, given the opportunity😉).

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  2. Hah, thanks for the very complementary mentions in this! I loved reading about your experiences with this pattern – the finished item of which I am wearing as I type this! Your trousers look absolutely fantastic and I totally agree about topstitching the pockets next time. I like the wings they make: it’s a feature and that top stitching down the side seam makes me go rather giddy 😂
    Looking forward to our February challenge! Have you got fabric yet? 😬

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    1. I just cut my fabric today! I decided on a different pattern – a Kwik Sew pattern, my first! – but the same fabric I used for my Turias, 21 wale corduroy. I want corduroy overall redemption!!
      How about you? Are you all over overalls? 😉

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  3. Nice pants! I like that flat front, elasticised back style, similar to Pietra pants but with a much narrower leg. They look great on you. I’ve used that same fabric and colourway for a Cielo top and wore it all summer, often with Pietra pine green linen shorts

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    1. I *suspect* this pattern was tweaked in response to the Pietra pants – Pauline Alice mentioned having to do a late-stage redesign because it looked too much like another indie pattern, and they could be cousins, anyway!
      Isn’t the fabric gorgeous? The store I bought it from had upholstered some chairs in it – is there anything it can’t do? 😀

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    1. Aw thank you! ❤ Meanwhile I can't stop making casual clothes long enough to sew a single wearable dress! My boyfriend suggested that we get gussied up for a lockdown date night and my choices were jeans or a full-length wedding guest gown and nothing in the middle. 😂

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  4. These trousers look fab. I have the Papercut Palisade trousers which also have back elastic and I’ve found it tricky to insert. Firstly, because I never seem to get the required length of elastic quite right and secondly, it requires a stretching and sewing at the same time, which never seems to work out for me. I think I’ll take a look at the Emerson pant instructions, it looks like an easier way to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here!! Stretching and sewing is beyond my skill set. I was so intimidated by fly fronts but in retrospect I think they can be easier than elastic (more steps, but everything stays put). I hope that Emerson technique works for you!

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