Blast from the Past

It has been many, many years since I cut a pattern.

Since it was so long, I didn’t tax myself with anything complicated. Let’s wind this back a little.

The other day, I realised that the backside was out of several pairs of my summer pants, worn thin and in some cases displaying an unseemly amount of underwear. I went shopping and one of the replacements I bought was a pair of wide leg pants in lightweight crepe with a comfortable broad elasticated waist and a slit from ankle to halfway up the calf which resulted in a fun flip of the pants leg when you walk. They have rapidly become my favourite pair, still a little thin for the current wintery weather (yes, OK, 21°C/70°F is not winter as many of you know it, but it’s cold for us), but due to be worn to death in the summer. They were only available in one colour-way, navy with a small white spot.

Well, obviously I was going to try and copy them, wasn’t I? – especially as there are only 3 pattern pieces involved: front, back and waistband.

I had a pencil, eraser, ruler, roll of brown paper, tape measure and pins. That’s all you need to draft a pattern off an existing garment, unless you want to go all fancy and get one of those little spiky wheel things. It’s a bit trickier when there’s elastic involved, as it’s hard to get a garment to lie flat when the waistband keeps wanting to shrink back to its unexpanded size. But essentially you lay the garment as flat as possible and trace around it, using pins to punch an outline where you can’t flatten out a seam or disappear a sleeve, for example.

You then join everything up, add seam allowance, et voilà: a basic pattern. Add marks to ensure things will line up, indicate straight grain and how many pieces to cut, and the job is done.

Now to cut it out from the grey and white bargain-bin fabric I picked up a couple of years ago for the massive total of $6 for 3 metres. Plenty. And I’ll probably have enough to make some sort of matching top.

Watch this space!

44 thoughts on “Blast from the Past

  1. tialys says:

    I love your instructions – and to think I once went on a whole day’s course to learn how to copy garments 😀

  2. Marty K says:

    I was just thinking about doing this today! There are a couple of pairs of pants and a skirt that I’ve worn through. They’re so old that there is no way I can find them in a store. Thanks for the hints!

  3. I’ll be watching and waiting 🤩

  4. Excellent idea 🙂 I once did this with a favourite smock-type top that I wore to death, worked quite well.

  5. nanacathy2 says:

    You are a very clever sausage- good luck.

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! It’s really not at all hard when the garment is very simple. I wouldn’t do it for a pair of jeans; all those felled seams and complicated bits around the fly!

  6. I used to do a lot of this back in the day. I found the trick was to cut the fabric with extra seam allowance at least the first time round. Then if I had made a mistake (with an elasticated waist for instance) I had enough fabric to adjust it and I could cut away excess when I got it fitting correctly. Your new trousers sound lovely Kate and I look forward to seeing the new versions.

  7. claire93 says:

    they look and sound like they’re going to be very comfortable. And once you’re sure your pattern is good, you can whip up a few more pairs ^^

  8. And you can keep the pattern for when you find more lovely fabric.

  9. They look promising so far, and there will be scraps! Hurrah!

  10. magpiesue says:

    These sound wonderful. I hope your version turns out well – without too much tweaking to make them right. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ll definitely post about them if they work out. I’ve made a tweak or two already, changing the length of the slit and removing some purely decorative features. They’re so pared back it should be quite straightforward…. famous last words!

  11. The way you describe it – I am even tempted to try myself!
    Looking forward to seeing the finished article. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Really, it’s a matter of logical progression. Do the easiest piece first to build your confidence and work on from there. Don’t forget the seam allowances and match-up marks. Start with cheap fabric so it’s not a disaster if the thing doesn’t work first time. I think it was worth doing; the pants are extremely simple but also extremely comfortable, becoming and fun to wear!

  12. Amanda says:

    It’s horrible when you finally find the best fitting, most comfortable thing and you literally wear them to death. Good idea making your own pair.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve done that a few times, to the point where I’ve gone back and bought another if it was at all possible. But even the second one goes in time, while a pattern is forever.

  13. anne54 says:

    Oh you clever possum! It’s a great idea for something that is so comfy and will be straight forward to sew. I hope it is a perfect fit first time. (And I am feeling so sorry for you up in that cold. You have probably got sunshine that you have to deal with too! 😊 )

    • katechiconi says:

      I need to nip out and get some elastic, and then I’ll be able to make them. Hopefully all will work well.
      Up until this morning, yes, we’d had lots of dreadful sunshine, but Mouse was aghast at being asked to do walkies in quite heavy rain! He is currently fast asleep on our bed, wrapped cosily in his grey blankie, nice and warm after a good rub down.

  14. kymlucas says:

    Love how you make it sound so easy, when I just know if I tried it, the result would be clown pants. Believe it or not, I DID use to sew quite a lot — took four years of Home Ec in high school. But I got out of practice, and when I went to pick it up again, all those skills were gone.

    It’s okay. I do other things, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll get inspired and try again. 🙂
    Meanwhile, I can enjoy your talents.

  15. I used to do that back in my braver, more energetic days. It’s hard to find clothes that are comfortable to wear and a good fit. I think you did a good job of copying the pattern off. The waistband is always the hardest without 6 hands. 😉 Looking forward to the finished product.

    • katechiconi says:

      A second pair of hands would certainly have made it quicker! I measured and drew it and pulled the waistband out and held it to the drawing, and then changed the line… and repeat…. and repeat. Well, you get the idea.

  16. Emmely says:

    Good idea and good luck!

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