Recently, I’ve wanted nothing more than to make a fine pair of trousers for myself. The weather is decidedly nippy at the moment and the thought of donning some perfectly fitting, snuggerthananything wool trousers has filled me with delight. Add to this a recent obsession with Ginger Rogers, who wore some killer trousers in her time, I set myself the task of making something 1940s inspired so I, too, can prance around the house/school/streets pretending that I am a Golden Age movie starlet. Good plan, heh? Granted, we are NOWHERE NEAR making trousers at school (I’m still battling with welt pockets) but there’s nothing like diving in at the deep end!
I was pretty sure I had a good trick up my sleeve, anyway…
have had some killer vintage, shorts which fitted like a glove and I decided that there would be no better way of creating the trousers of my dreams than by ripping up said shorts, copying the pattern, adding some length in the leg and, voila! Ginger Rogers, eat your heart out!
It’s always a bit of a trauma, pulling apart a favourite item of clothing – but I suppose it’s an inevitable part of the process if I’m to have any luck creating something utterly divine – especially seeing as my pattern cutting skills leave a lot to be desired. So I sort of closed my eyes, hoped for the best and before I knew it, my darling shorts were in pieces.
Next came the toile. I know that this is an important part of the process, but MY! How I just wanted to make those trousers up straight away in the glorious wool that I had bought for the purpose! Anyway, jolly lucky I DID make the toile because it seems copying the pattern of something that fits you perfectly creates something that doesn’t fit you perfectly. In fact, I ended up making two toiles – one with a sort of tapered leg (which looked truly hideous) and another with straight legs. Both needed a tonne of adjustment.
I spent, in all, probably an entire day despairing over what I now know of as the Nemesis of the Amateur Trouser maker… the dreaded crotch. Oh! Such an insanely difficult thing to get right! Is this a doddle for the Master Tailor? Or is the crotch always a BLOOMIN’ NIGHTMARE? So many theories and methods abound on the internet about this area – each with a different theory on how to get it right… In the end, I dabbled with a few theories, tried a few techniques, went a bit freestyle, realised I was waaaay out of my depth and then decided that the original look really wasn’t so bad after all. And I wanted those trousers for that evening, dammit!
Actually putting the trousers together was a pretty quick part of the process. And after all that pattern mayhem, this was a true blessing – my sugar levels were running low and I was on the brink of hurling my fabric out of the window, jumping on a bus and heading to the high-street for my trousers. And I HATE the high-street! I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t have found any 40s inspired trousers there, either.
The final slog saw a few moments of smugness as I made a couple of hand-sewn button holes and put in a hand sewn zip … Thank you tailoring course! … but on the whole, making these trousers was an illustration of how much I have to learn. So very much! I am an ant, climbing a huge mountain!! A huuugeee mountain!
So the results:
I’m pleased to report, I did manage to finish the trousers in time for my evening adventures ( an incredible lecture by the simply brilliant Emmanuelle Dirix entitled Women, Fashion and the First World War, followed by wild dancing to the early hours to two of London’s finest jazz bands… it was quite a night!). They look good, but not perfect. And I am conscious of the slap-dash insides as I lost patience and sort of threw them together.
I have a second pair of trousers on the go, now. The urgency isn’t quite there this time (I’m not wanting to wear them this very evening!) and I’m working on beautiful seam finishes and a few more refined details. Massive learning curve. So much to work on. So many questions. Oh! Apprenticeship, where art thou????