Thursday, 16 April 2015

Trouser adaptation - from flares to "with flare"

I have a good pair of wool tweed flares, which have seen me through a number of official engagements. They are smart enough to suggest business dress, but the flare hints at unconventionality.
 I hadn't worn them for a while - being off sick meant a lack of business appointments - but I recently decided they had languished in the back of my wardrobe too long. I put them on again for the first time in three years, and was promptly reminded that I've put on weight while I've been convalescing. I can still get into them, but they are now uncomfortably (and rather un-flatteringly) too tight.

Hurrah! Another excuse for an adaptation-job!

My first thought was that there is quite a lot of fabric on these trousers, and that it might look good combined with some crocheted lace and made into a paneled blouse. Whilst hunting out patterns, I was forced to face up to the fact that such a blouse would have to be quite close fitting, and this may not be terribly comfortable in wool tweed.

I began to look at them again, this time bearing in mind that they would be more use to me as trousers, if I could adapt them to accommodate my slightly fuller shape. A few brain-strains later I started to form some ideas.

First things first - get rid of the flares! 

The front and back panels of these trousers are different widths, so I had to measure them separately to work out how much fabric I would need to remove. I also wanted to insert a contrasting side panel all the way down the outside leg (to give extra girth, and to look pretty!). So, this seemed the right time to do a bit of de-construction. I unpicked the outside-leg seam all the way from the hem to the waistband, and the inside-leg seam from hem to just above the knee.

I measured the width of both the front and back panels at various points down the leg and took the narrowest measurement as the width I would make the new legs.
 To ensure that the new leg-shape remains even, any fabric has to be removed from each side of the fabric equally. If I were to cut from one side only, the legs would end up curved!
So, to keep everything balanced the measurements have to be made from the centre outwards. Having measured and marked these, I cut off the excess fabric, and stitched up the inside leg seam again.

I then set about planning for the contrasting side panel. I had a piece of red wool suiting fabric left over from a project some years back. It was long enough and wide enough for this, and although it isn't quite as weighty as the tweed, it is still wool, so washing won't be a problem.

There were two aspects I needed to take into account in re-construction. First, the waistband. A quick try-on and re-measure had convinced me that I was going to have to expand this too! And secondly there is a rather attractive (but somewhat complicating) turn-up on the trousers. This triple-layered cuff, and the waistband would have to be replicated on the contrasting panel to prevent the adaptation from looking like a simple extension-job!

First of all, I had to create the "cuff". If I had been making this garment for someone else, I would have deconstructed the trousers further, undoing the turn-up and re-sewing it when the side panel had been attached. When sewing for myself, however, I am a little less precise. As long as it looks okay from the outside, and wont fall apart, I'm generally pretty happy with it!
I don't think I've ever really studied trouser turn-ups before, but they are actually very clever. There is a real genius to creating them without having an external seam. Here the fabric is folded back on itself, and stitched just below the height of the cuff. The fabric is then folded back again, and a small seam allowance is pinned to the back layer, to be hand-stitched later. It may well be possible to do this last step with a blind hemming foot, but that was more than I could get my head around! (If anyone knows the technique, I would love to hear it)

 The waistband was the second (and simplest) step. Having measured and checked the length, I created a waistband at the top of the piece using the same technique as you would for any garment. This is incredibly simple on a straight piece of fabric. The only complication was ensuring that the finished band matched the height of the trouser waistband.

Finally, I cut the two panels and stitched one into each outer leg seam. Waistband and cuffs were carefully aligned, and the seam allowance was back-stitched  by hand into the garment to prevent any unsightly edges peeping out. The last stage was to hand-stitch the hem on those turn-up extensions.

I'm quite pleased with finished result. I've worn them a couple of times now, and received nice comments. However, the more I wear them, the more I feel that they have a slightly military look. I think I may add some lace detailing to give a little more femininity. I'm sure there's some peach or cream antique lace somewhere in granny's stash. This adaptation may not be over yet - I'll let you know!


1 comment:

Thank-you for your comments. It's great to hear from fellow crafters.