In Sewing

preparing for pants

Next up on my Twelve Pattern Challenge agenda: Pants. I already have a pants pattern in my T.P.C queue but there are a few things that are making me hold off on it for now. I’ve sewn the Simplicity 3688 trousers a few times before (here, here, and here) and they have great potential, but the work involved to transform them into the pants I’m longing for right now is too much for me to think about fussing with. I really want a pair of pants with a fly front, lots of pockets, and belt loops. I’ve never sewn a fly front before so that’s another reason why I’m feeling the need to add fly front trousers to my challenge.

1930s_1940s_flyfront_trousersphotos via wehadfacesthen and 1942 Sears Catalog

I searched high and low for a vintage pattern to fill this void, but instead found a practically perfect modern pattern to fit the bill. The Vogue 8836 pattern looks nearly identical to the 1930’s trousers shown in the photo above! I’m pleased to report that Jo-Anns will be having a sale on Butterick and Vogue patterns this weekend (no I’m not psychic, I have the app) so I’m going to scoop it up for $4.99 instead of $13.50! Score! I’m sure all the ladies in my WWII reenacting troupe will understand that I had to sneak away from the event to grab a pattern on sale, right? They totally will.

Now that I have my inspiration and a pattern, I need to narrow down a fabric choice. I already have some beautiful rust colored corduroy in my stash, but I might want something a little thinner with more drape for Vogue 8836. I’ve started a Pinterest board for My Ideal Wardrobe so I can start to get a general sense of fabrics, textures, and overall themes of things that inspire me.


I like chic menswear, tweeds, and timeless color palettes. I also like things that are soft and look like they’ve been broken-in and well loved overtime – You know, Vintage-y things. Practicality also plays a crucial roll here so I’m looking for fabrics that are washable and fairly durable. I don’t want to fuss with matching plaids either. …and I really like the color green lately.


fabrics: onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnine

Denver Fabrics doesn’t advertise swatches but you can order any fabric as small as 1/8th of a yard, which is pretty much a swatch. I ordered quite a few swatches of different fabrics, some obvious for pants (polyester blend suiting and such), and some potential wild cards (peach skin?!). Number three is my favorite so far, but we’ll see which one I like best when they get here!

The only thing I plan to change on the Vogue 8836 pattern is to add double welt pockets to the back, which is also a technique I’ve never tried, so I’m taking the online class Designing Details: Pockets with Kenneth D. King to help me through it.

I’d also like to try and squeeze in some shirt sewing in February but we’ll see how involved the pants are first. I’m really excited about these! I’m picturing them now and they look so good in my head haha!

Have you ever sewn pants? Did you have good luck with them?


  • I just bought the Vogue pattern too! I badly need cold weather trousers and they seem to fit the bill. Someone else made them and they looked fabulous, I can’t remember who. Now it is just a matter of finding the perfect wool. I like your #3, I was thinking of doing a large scale herringbone as well.

  • I am thinking about pants too! In the winter – I wear them WAY MORE than skirts/dresses… but I only like to sew skirts and dresses… so I have a disproportionate amount of those.

    I can’t tell you – how inspirational you are! I set a goal to sew this year… and your blog… your posts.. really are prodding me along! THANKYOU!

    I love your 12Pattern/12 Month goal. I was disappointed that you weren’t going to host a LINK party. (I completely understand- you want to keep it a personal goal. I respect that.) But I decided to host a Link Party in July- perhaps you will stop by and toss some of your projects into the mix? This link party really is inspired by YOU.
    (I have never held a link party- I don’t know if they are a headache or not.)

    Anyway. Just had comment! Can’t wait to see how your pants turn out!

  • I recently sewed sailor pants from a pair of vintage wool sailor pants that I own. It took me awhile, but they turned out great! Here is the results- You have inspired me to make a list of my sewing goals for the year too. I will be posting on a vintage McCalls blouse I sewed in January soon. I have another blouse in mind for this month. i am curious to see how your welt pockets turn out, as I like the look of them as well.

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I REALLY like your fabric choices.

    – Erin, the current pastel hater.

  • Oh, jeez! Pants are my nemesis! I don’t wear them often, only during the freezing winter and damp spring – and I have had more than my share of frustration trying to make them. I ended up using a modern Butterick pattern (4455? maybe?) but it took me about 5-6 versions to get one pair of navy cords that fit. Ugh! Not worth it for me.

    However, I am looking forward to your pants adventure! I like swatches 1, 3, and 5.

  • Put in the back of your mind that doing buttons in the center front placket can be REALLY easy and a lovely vintage touch. I’ve actually got two pairs of pants cut out now that I’m going to buttons in instead of zippers. And those welt pockets? MUCH easier than you think! I used to make men’s pants for a custom uniform company and they freaked me out at first. 42 pairs later and I had it DOWN : )

  • Very exciting! I wonder if going that route would be the solution to the seemingly impossible task of finding vintage style pants (short of my beloved Freddies denim) that actually look half decent and fit well on me. I doubt it could do any worse than the experiences I’ve had with store bought repro pants so far, that’s for sure!!!

    ♥ Jessica

  • I think a green tweed would be divine for this project! I’ve making a green dress – maybe it has to do with St. Patty’s day coming up.

  • Shannon D.

    Just the pattern I’ve been wanting! Will definitely pick this up. I’ve sewn fly zippers but not welt pockets. Although in my experience, its easier to sew pants than find good fitting rtw! Love number 3 fabric!

  • I think a green tweed would be divine for this project! I’ve making a green dress – maybe it has to do with St. Patty’s day coming up!

  • Angel

    I’ve just made my first pair of pants and I’m pretty happy with them. It was a repro pattern so the instructions were easy to follow, but I have to say I don’t think I would have attempted it with out having you as an inspiration. I’ve been using your technique to copy vintage patterns and even made a muslin, which I’d never done before!
    I found a great tweed locally (that I’ll be able to wash at home!) and that was also part of the reason why I decided to attempt it. Making a muslin showed me what I’d like to change in the pants and I learned how to do a lapped zipper.
    My next plan is to find some linen to my liking and make summer weight pants too!

  • I’ve sewn pants with only 2 patterns so far (Wearing History’s Smooth Sailing and Gertie’s Butterick 5895), but the pattern you selected for yours looks awesome! I’m a little bit surprised by the fact that it’s got a fly front though, I thought back or side zips were more common in the 1940s?
    And by the way, if you’re interested, Lauren did a tutorial on inserting a front fly a while ago :

  • I’ve never sewn pants, but I thought I’d throw my opinion in and say that fabrics three, nine or seven would all be lovely!

  • I used to have pantsophobia (the fear of sewing pants) but I cured myself by sewing a lovely pair of capri pants! I love the pattern you’ve chosen – so much so I might get myself a copy. I also purchased some of that fabric you used to make your skirt… I wonder if this is a trend developing??? 🙂

  • I’ve sewn Palazzo pants with side pockets and curved yoke waistband and back zip. I want to sew them again with a straight waistband. Sewing in a “real” fly front zipper is something I want to accomplish this year. I sew a lot for my boys and the oldest is 7 so a fake fly isn’t going to cut it much longer. :o)

    Oh, I thought #3 was prettiest before I read that it was top of your list. :o) Hope it looks just as nice/nicer in person.

  • Pat

    My eye went directly to your favorite fabric. I am trying to make jeans right now. For some insane reason I cannot get the pockets to work. Knowing myself, I am probably over thinking the whole thing. I’ll be interested in seeing how yours turn out.

    • Rochelle

      I’m happy to hear that fabric appeals to you too! I’m hoping it feels as nice as it looks. Pockets can be really tricky, especially with patch pockets that aren’t anchored into a seam to help you line up where they should go. That’s another reason why I signed up for the Craftsy class so I can get better at pockets too 🙂

  • Brilliant! You are ballsy, adding all those details (which i have avoided thus far in my pants sewing). I think you are going to end up with great pants though! I really found that making pants was a turning point in being able to wear my me-made wardrobe every day. Maybe you can get some tips on fitting loose pants from the people at the event this weekend?

    • Rochelle

      It IS ballsy of me lol!! But I’m feeling so depressed with my ready-made wardrobe lately, and so uninspired by my past efforts at pants, that I really need to just dive in and DO IT. I’m not stopping until I have a damn fine pair of late 1930s trousers lol. Maybe February is a good time for you to make ballsy pants, too? 😉 😉

  • I’ve sewn both a front fly and side zip pants. I really got stuck on the front fly because… well it was a vintage pattern with confusing directions LOL and my fabric really wanted to fray… I was never happy with the fly although I dearly loved the fabric. The side zipper- I have no idea why my zippers always end too low- but that is why trousers are on my ‘to be made’ list! I always wait for the patterns at JoAnn’s to go on the 5 for $5 sale 😉
    I have to agree with your favourite fabric too- that’s the one I love 😉 In fact, I even recognise some of your pins as ones I pinned too. The tweed country look is a favourite of mine! I have an desire for some of the 1930’s jodhpurs/breeches with the wide thighs 😉 But then… I also want the safari hat… 😛

    • Rochelle

      Vintage instructions drive me nuts sometimes which is another reason why I was so happy to find this modern pattern that I think will work well. 5 for $5 sales will be the death of me haha! I was actually really good last time and didn’t get any patterns. …so I think I should make up for it this time 😉 😉

      p.s. I have a pair of 1930s Jodhpurs made under the NRA and they’re so ridiculous and awesome. I really need to share them on the blog soon because they’re so fun!

      • I am jealous of your jodhpurs 🙂 you DO need to share!
        The lack of instructions for the fly, started me on my vintage sewing instruction book collection:)

  • i’ve sewn so many pairs of pants i could do it in my sleep! they’re one of the most satisfying garments to make, in my opinion. it takes a few attempts to get the hang of it, but once you do they really don’t take long at all. good luck!

    • Rochelle

      I can do a basic pair of side zipper pants pretty well but the fly front and welt pockets is going to be a challenge for me. I’m excited to tackle it though! You’re right, I think I would feel SO accomplished with a well made pair of pants under my belt (hehe).

      Thanks for the luck 😉

  • The new pattern looks more flared than the old pictures. Are you going to mess about with it and try to get the look perfect?

    • Rochelle

      The line drawings can be deceiving sometimes. If you look at the red pair the model is wearing I think the finished garment looks pretty spot on! We’ll see I guess. I’m definitely doing a test fit in muslin fabric first and will make adjustments as needed.

  • Hi There, I recommend the book, Pants for Real People. It has great tips and descriptions of how to fix fit problems. It also has great instructions for a fly front zipper. Kate

    • Rochelle

      Thank you, Kate! I will look for that book on Amazon. Sounds like a great resource.

  • Thanks for this post. I’m drafting a post on pants for February as well, and that is just the style I’m looking for. Right now I’m planning to use V8498, but I’m tempted to check that pattern out to see how different they are. Hope you post your impression of King’s class. I have that one in my queue as well. Have fun!

    • Rochelle

      Just read your post and love it! Also, Kenneth’s class is definitely one of my favorites on Craftsy. His teaching style is perfect for me – clear and repetitive (but not obnoxiously so)!

  • I have sewn trousers, one pair of wide-legged ones (Burda style pattern) and a few skinny ones. They all turned out good, although the wide-legged trouser pattern probably could use some tweaking, but the skinny trousers are now a perfect fit I would say. Anyway, I found that sewing trousers is not as hard as it seems! Good luck with your pattern. I’m sure the trousers will look adorable on you, because you totally rock that vintage look!

    • Rochelle

      Thanks, Johanna! I prefer wearing wide-leg pants because I find them more comfortable, but getting a feminine fit with a baggy style can sometimes be difficult. I’ll definitely share my fitting process as I work through this pattern 🙂

  • Good idea! I’m in sore need of some good vintage style pants so i’ll be following along with this, can’t wait to see more!

  • I haven’t made trousers yet (unless you count pjs) but am looking to do so, so I will be following your progress with interest. I’ve just bought some fabric very similar to your number 3 to make the skirt from Simplicity 4044, it is wool but I washed it in the machine on the wool cycle with special machine wash liquid, dried it flat and it was fine. Btw I think you are totally on the right track with those colours for you 🙂

  • I just decided yesterday that I need to conquer pants this year once and for all. I tried before and they were a disaster — saggy butt, weird hips, and the crotch had… issues. I prefer skirts anyway, so I put pants on the back burner 🙂 I’m trying to decide on a pattern right now. I love fabric #3 — it would make great pants. I’m looking forward to seeing yours!

    • Can I just say how beautiful your Roxy girl is? What a sweet face! Tell her Lucille says hi 😉

      p.s. this is the year you sew great pants! You can do it!

  • I think your plan to precede with the contemporary vogue pattern is a really great idea! The pattern does have a very vintage look to it, and I expect it will be much easier to make a pair of great fitting pants with a more modern pattern.