How to make trousers that fit: part 2

If you’ve chosen a terrific trouser pattern that suits your shape and figure type you’ll be casting your eye around for some suitable fabric. There are so many options – what should you go for?

Choosing fabric for trousers

Start with the fabric suggestions for your pattern. The designer will have put lots of thought into these, recommending fabrics with just the right qualities. If you’re still in a quandry, then as well as colour, print and feel, you’ll want to think about:

  • stretch: does your pattern call for a stretch fabric – if so, then if you stray from the recommended stretch factor then you might need to size up or down to get a good fit
  • thickness: if your fabric’s too thick then details like a fly front or pockets will be hard to sew and could distort the garment’s lines; too thin and you’ll be at risk of VPL!
  • creasing v pressing: linen makes beautiful trousers and it’s easy to press, but as soon as you sit down you’ll be covered in creases – an artificial fibre won’t crease much but it’ll be harder to press into shape.

Once you’ve chosen your main fabric, you’ll also need fabric for making a toile (muslin) or potentially several. Grab something that has exactly the same stretch, and a similar weight and thickness to your main fabric. This is so that your final trousers fit the same as your toile.

Hubble, bubble, toile and trouble

Let’s face it, you’re probably making your own trousers because RTW trousers usually don’t fit you. So there’s no getting away from it: you are going to have to make a toile. Probably two. Possibly three. So load up on calico or scratch around for something else you can use – I made my first trouser toile from a gift wrapping bag.

Depending on your pattern, you might be able to leave out some pieces when you make your toile. You can probably forego the back pockets (although it helps to mark where they’ll go), and potentially the front pockets too, depending on the construction method.

I’d suggest you do put in the fly-front zip, side zip or whatever fastening is suggested. The fit won’t be exactly the same without it. And you should definitely plan to toile the waistband.

You could opt to save fabric by making a shorts toile instead, as Lauren did for the Thurlow sewalong, but this didn’t work out well for me. The Thurlow pattern uses different pieces for the shorts from those for the trousers – the shorts pieces are wider in the leg so my shorts toile didn’t show up that I needed to add extra width at the thigh. If your pattern only has one set of pieces, you could probably make a shorter version for your first toile (while you get the crotch to fit), but for slim fit trousers, you’ll probably want to make a full-length toile at some point to get the fit right around the knees and calves.

And when you cut out the pieces for your toile, you won’t need to worry about nap, pattern matching or even which is the right side of the fabric, so this should help to reduce the yardage you need to buy for your toile.

Next up (coming soon) in part 3: making your muslin

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