Never Again Into These Breeches

Let’s start with the big questions. What, uh, what are we looking at here?

It’s a pair of navy blue velveteen jodpur-style breeches.

Cool, cool…and why?

Okay so listen, typically I enjoy getting dressed. I like picking a sturdy cotton pant and trying not to forget sunscreen. But I don’t like getting dressed up! I’m bad at it, and I never feel like myself, even if objectively I look gooood, so now I’m trying to bridge that gap with an Event Pant. I was hoping to wear this outfit to our annual, recently reinstated, Christmas party (hence this blouse again), and maybe even to a wedding we’re attending in February.

I lurked this (overpriced) SisterMag pattern for a while, but my recent urge to sew slightly sillier clothes pushed me over the finish line. It was also an excuse to try spray-painting snaps, which I was curious about – it wasn’t madly effective, since they started flaking as soon as I installed them, but I’m glad I tried. Unfortunately that might be the only thing I’m realio trulio glad about.

Immediately post-download I was discouraged by the pattern’s quality. The back crotch curve was so shallow it was almost flat, never a great sign, and there were very few notches anywhere. At least the AI file was unlocked so I could edit the back crotch curve and add seam allowances before printing (you’ll see my adjusted back crotch curve in the diagrams below).

Then, there’s two pieces referred to in the directions – welt piping and a back pocket bag – that don’t have pattern pieces provided. Well okay, I thought, maybe they give dimensions somewhere, they’re just rectangles, but no. I could have measured the flap piece, found a tutorial, and worked it out, but I figured side seam pockets were sufficient in an Event Pant so I skipped them. My back ‘pocket’ is just a flap. Actually, it’s just TWO flaps. One flap per side. Two flaps > one flap!

Calling the direction ‘directions’ is generous, by the way! A sequence of words is provided. It’s Sphinxlike. That didn’t always bother me – I was always going to sew the front fly the way I like to sew front flies, ditto that for the waistband – but I was really confused about the placket on the leg.   

Now I like being prepared. I recently read an article about projector sewing in Threads that included the suggestion “make changes on the fly!” and it gave me chills (every time?? You have to remember your adjustments EVERY TIME??? But the paper remembers!). So using a small handful of denim scraps, I decided to sew a lower-leg muslin.

Good thing, too, because it emerged that not only did the lower-back-leg piece need seam allowance, it needed additional placket allowance on one side, or it wouldn’t be an underlap at all. There were no directions for accomplishing this seam/placket, and I don’t mean there’s bad ones – I mean that step is skipped entirely. But here’s how I eventually worked it out.

1. Add seam allowances to all pieces. I used 3/8”. Also extend the underlap (lower back leg) by ¾”, doubling its original width. Add a fly extension, if desired.
2. Sew together the upper and lower back leg, but stop and backstitch 3/8”* from the outseam edge, leaving the seam allowance free. *Or whatever the width of your seam allowance is.
3. Finish the horizontal seams separately (I trimmed mine with pinking shears).
4. Fold over 3/8”* to the wrong side. Fold ¾” to the right side.
5. Avoiding the unattached seam allowance of the upper back leg, sew across the underlap extension 3/8”* from the top edge.
6. Turn the extension right-sides-out. If you plan to topstitch, wait until you’ve sewn the hem. I recommend turning the corner similarly to above, like in this faced hem tutorial. If you don’t plan on topstitching, the buttons/snaps will hold the layers in place.
7. Stay stitch 3/8”* from the inside corner of the front leg. Clip into the corner, stopping at the stitching line

8. Sew the outseams together, backstitching at the snipped corner.
9. Finish the outseams together, again stopping at the corner.
10. Fold over the top seam allowance of the front leg placket to the wrong side. Fold over edge seam allowance to the wrong side, then again by the width of the placket. The outer folded edge of the front leg placket will be continuous with the outseam line. Again, if you plan to topstitch, sew the hem first. After the inseam is sewn, you can finish the hem as linked above in step 6.

And, the result. Not perfect, but good enough, and worth sewing the scrappy denim version.

I also wanted to make sure the leg wasn’t too snug around my calf (it wasn’t). And then I realized I could put the muslin on my leg, take the measurement from the horizontal back leg seam to my waist, and then check the pattern to see if the leg was my preferred length. And it was.

So in many ways I was prepared. I was not prepared, however, for how violently I hate wearing these.

Maybe the fit is wrong, maybe that calf is supposed to be tight-tight-tight so the bottom leg never shifts at all, but my whole self rejects the way it feels when I sit down and the placket slides over my knee. I don’t know where it’s supposed to go – over? Under? Allemande left? But no matter what, it’s uncomfortable and impractical and it drives me fully flipping bananas. Just to comprehensively justify my rage – like, these are jodhpurs, maybe they’re for sitting on a saddle, not in a chair – I even posed like I was riding a horse (“HEELS DOWN!”) and proved I was, indeed, justified. They were still enormously uncomfortable.

“Ah ha,” you might be thinking. “It CALLS FOR buttons. These are snaps. This sounds like a snaps issue.”

IT IS NOT EXCLUSIVELY A SNAPS ISSUE.

The snaps don’t help, in that sometimes they unsnap themselves and when I bend down to re-snap my right leg a snap on my left leg bursts open, and then I become a first-act romantic comedy heroine trapped in an endless loop. But the snaps are useful, too, in that the only time these pants are remotely comfortable while sitting is when I undo the top two (visibly straining) snaps of each placket and let my knees pop out. Yep. Velvet breeches, a wind on my knees, that was the dream.

So I would like you to scroll up to those ad hoc button placket directions and do whatever the digital equivalent is of throwing them into a fire. Do not make these pants. I am the old sailor. I am Banquo. Heed me.

And the thing that’s really sending me up the wall is that I love the fabric, and it was a gift, and a pricey gift too! And I wasted all this time and money and all these resources! The only fix I can think of is making the pants into shorts, but blue velveteen puffy bloomer shorts??? Do I want those? Does anyone? Or maybe if I rip out the inseams, a miniskirt? I can’t guarantee *I’ll* get more use of it that way, but I’m looking to maximize this garment’s likelihood of finding a new home. To be clear these breeches do not get to be on my body in their current incarnation ever again. I’ve thrown away the pattern!

And this raises another question: what should I wear to that February wedding? Nerts.

Pattern: SisterMag breeches

Pattern cost: $9.06

Size: 44; scooped back seam 1/2″, added 3/8″ seam allowances, plus additional 3/4″ allowance for leg underlap

Supplies: 3 yards Kaufman velveteen in Navy, $56.97, Ryco’s; zipper, Sewfisticated; spray paint, Tags, $4.85

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $70.88

16 thoughts on “Never Again Into These Breeches

  1. Poorly drafted patterns and bad instructions make me so cross. Even crosser when people are selling them at premium prices! Give me Burda magazines any day.
    I like the idea of a velvet mini skirt

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  2. HAHA. Sorry to laugh at your misery but this was incredibly entertaining to read. Ugh, bad drafting and bad instructions. BOO!!! That sucks! What about a second life as a vest?

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    1. Now THAT is an exciting idea. I have some biggish scraps too, so if I harvest the lower legs, and add them to my scraps…wheels are turning.

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  3. A vest is a great idea! Or, if you like the jodhpurs, it sounds like they mainly need some extra length in the back so the legs don’t ride up when you sit–could you add a band between the two parts of the leg? Or a yoke in the top of the back? If all else fails, the fabric would make great little kids’ clothes if you have any small children in your life.

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    1. That’s interesting, is it the back leg length that determines how that seam rides up? You can see in my drawing of the pattern pieces how there’s an ‘almond’ of removed fabric from the back knee – I wonder if that’s causing the issue.

      I’ve already started looking at vest inspiration! Originally I thought waistcoat, but now the needle is swinging towards quilted vest! 🙂

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  4. I’m so sad these didn’t work out. They look amazing but I totally get the discomfort factor. Plus you had to do so many modifications to the pattern just to have it function.

    You should totally make more velvet pants in the future though because they’re very cool.

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    1. Thanks so much! Yeah, I was pretty bummed. But I’m feeling excited to repurpose the fabric now. This project has definitely not diminished my enthusiasm for velvet (well, velveteen, on my budget)!

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  5. Damn what a shitty pattern! The only tiny consolation I can offer is that your recount of it made me smile! Such a bummer cuz the idea of kind of adventurous party pants in the form of velvet jodhpurs is a great one. Even more frustrating when you’ve gone to all that effort to actually write half the pattern’s instructions! I like the mini-skirt salvage idea. Or if you’re not up for a big refashion at least get some luxe accessories out of it – maybe a beret and a scarf? Congrats on the epic effort in spite of the pattern’s evident failings.

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  6. Oh they put me in a lousy mood, but bad reviews are fun to write! 😂 I’m actually feeling pretty jazzed to try some refashioning, possibly because I long to take scissors to these. ^^ Thanks so much!

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  7. Kudos for making the effort of coming up with graphics to tell other people how to improve this pattern after it let you down so spectacularly. I too quite like the mini skirt option- or the vest for that matter- it would look awsome in this fabric.

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