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