Tackling Men’s Trousers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here! I got the idea last year to undertake making my husband a pair of trousers; one of the few proper trouser patterns available was Vogue 8890, which had the additional bonus of including a jacket pattern (for future consideration).


The pattern has 20 unique pieces. I used 3 of them to make a muslin for fitting– the pant front, back, and side front (which is the inside of the front slant pocket). It fit great through the waist and hips, which is where most of my husband’s fitting issues occur (I didn’t include the waistband in the muslin. If I knew then what I know now, I would have.) The inseam, on the other hand, was a mess. It started only 2″ from the end of the fly closing, which meant the inseam was almost at the front of the leg. I measured my husband’s RTW pants and found that the inseam started generally 4-5″ from the end of the fly closing, so I opened the outer leg seam, and drew an inseam line 2″ away from and parallel to the original, made new pattern pieces and added seam allowance, and was off. Except that most pants have a region marked “stretch here” along the back leg’s inseam line, and I didn’t know how to recreate this along the new seam line, so I didn’t.

I used a wool suiting fabric from Winmil in Boston. I cut all the pieces (a multi-afternoon task), and thread basted all markings. I’ve discovered that thread-basting saves lots of trouble going forwards, and I’ll now do it for everything, rather than trying to get by with chalk. Ink that disappears with heat works well too (I like my Frixion pen), but I’m absent-minded when pressing during construction, and prone to erasing important markings.

Here’s the position of the new inseam. The original was located midway between the current position, and the bottom of the fly closing… you can imagine the consequences:


The back leg at the inseam is baggy because I didn’t cut the seam line a bit short and then stretch it to match the front seam line.

The pattern starts off with possibly the hardest construction step, the back welt pockets. I practiced on a muslin first. It went mostly ok. The inner pocket was a bizarre construction I still haven’t wrapped my mind around, but by following the instructions step-by-step, I did generate a pocket bag.

When I made the pocket on the actual pant, using the prescribed hair canvas for interfacing the welt, it became painfully clear that there was excess length in the welt, which was an error and a problem. I’m not referring to the welt “tabs” or “ends” that get tucked in, but rather that the marked stitch line on the welt was longer than the corresponding stitch line of the pocket marked on the pant piece. I ended up easing the welt to the pocket line, which was a big mistake. It causes the pocket to bulge out, as seen here:


I should have, instead, put the welt flat along the stitch line marked on the pant piece, and stitched along that line, ignoring the stitch line endpoints marked on the welt.

On the inside, the pocket bag is a bit wider than the distance from the pocket to the side seam. I think the pockets are the same dimensions for all pant sizes, and they didn’t account for this difference for the smaller sizes. Or didn’t account for it sufficiently. Here’s my attempt at dealing with that issue:


I’ve eased the pocket stay (I think that’s the name for the top portion that gets tucked into the waistband) along the waist line, in an effort to incorporate the excess fabric.

Sewing the front pockets mostly worked fine according the pattern, although the notches on the outer leg seams didn’t quite align. The zipper was mostly ok as well. Then I moved on to the waistband. First of all, I discovered that men’s trousers have a “facing” for the waistband facing, instead of finishing the raw edge of the facing with bias tape (as most women’s pants are done). I have no idea why, but all the RTW pants have this construction. I also learned that the belt loops (“carriers,” to use the technical term) are top-stitched to the top of the waistband after the fact, rather than being sandwiched between the waistband and facing. That was all well and good, and it was my opportunity to learn something new….

Except…. that most of the notches on the waistband and facing pieces didn’t align. Not facing-to-facing, and not facing-to-waistband. Something was always off at each step. I had to guess what the intention was (the illustrations in the directions were no help), and try to make it look as intended, not as written. While the fly facing on one side seals in the raw edge of the waistband facing, on the other side a bit of it remains raw no matter how I overlap things:

raw_edge_smIf I fold down the waistband first, then overlap the fly-facing-thing (the part that’s finished in the photo with a zig-zag edge), then the lower facing’s raw edge is sealed, but not the upper.

I’ve finished most of the heavy-duty construction. I need to fix up the center back seam. It looks like this, and though it’ll be covered by a belt, I have higher standards than letting it go:


I’ll have to do this by not sewing across the intersecting seam (which causes the jog), but stopping and restarting on the other side of the intersection.

I also have a belt loop to correct, and a crotch shield to install, though I may omit the latter since I’m overall not happy with the pants. Despite all these issues, though, they do fit nicely, and they’ll get some wear.

I was hoping this trouser pattern would be the go-to for making multiple pairs of pants in different colors/ fabrics (men don’t have the problem of needing drastically different styles). Unfortunately, with all the issues still remaining to be fixed, I might be better off with a different pattern, if I can find one.


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