Simplicity K1699 trousers

Yes, that is snow you can see in these pictures!

Cropped linen trousers, not your typical February sew!

The idea for these came about last summer, when I was sweltering at Paddington station in 34 degree heat after a work meeting. All I wanted in the world was a pair of linen trousers so I could stand over the tube air vents without exposing myself to West London’s commuters!

So here they are. Eight months late. Oh well. I’m ready for a warm spring. Ha ha ha.

It’s. So. Cold.

The pattern

I also like the look of the jacket that came with this pattern – it’s a simple Chanel-type collarless jacket.

I’ve been wanting to have another go at trouser fitting, using what I learnt on last year’s Project Ginger Jeans, to tackle a woven fabric. This pattern (Simplicity K1699) came free with a sewing magazine ages ago, and I initially overlooked the trousers because they were tapered and I usually wear straight or wide leg shapes. But I relented and decided to try this one because they’re such a simple shape with virtually no bells and whistles to add complications or volume at the hip.

As drafted, there’s a self-faced waistband, a side lapped zip and two darts – one at the back and one at the front. I didn’t need the front darts, so these have gone, I opted to use a Petersham facing for the waistband, and I switched to a centre back invisible zip on the advice of Pants for Real People. I added some more width through the leg, but not enough to qualify as a straight leg, and I ended up shortening the inseam to around 27″ to create a cropped style – not entirely on purpose…

The fabric

I love working with linen, but I’m less keen on the creasing, so I chose the Robert Kaufman Yarn Dyed Essex Linen fabric in the steel colourway. It’s a soft, dove grey, and should make a lovely neutral for the summer months. The fabric frays like b*ggery, but then that’s linen for you – staystitching the waistline will help prevent you losing an inch off it during fitting. It presses beautifully, and the cotton component (45%) helps to reduce the creasing.

It’s only 115cm wide though, and mine shrank a full 10% in the wash, so make sure you get plenty…

I bought 2.5m, needing 2.3 to make the trousers, and then stupidly added extra-large seam allowances for fitting as well as my usual 2-4″ to the length. I thought I’d cracked it by cutting on a single layer, but actually made a stupid mistake with the layout and ended up about 10cm short. So cropped trousers weren’t entirely a design choice!


I gave the tissue fitting method a try this time. This pattern’s perfect for it because it doesn’t have a separate waistband piece or pocket pieces to faff with, just a regular front and back. Plus the waistband hits at the natural waistline so it’s easier to spot any shortages in crotch depth or crotch length.

I didn’t find it all that easy – there were plenty of issues in my first toile that I hadn’t solved in the tissue fit. But it probably does save one toile in the process.

The fitting adjustments I made – in this order – were:

  • Grade up from size 16 to 18 (cheat’s method, I just added 1cm in width to the centre of the back piece and widened the seam allowances at the sides)
  • Crotch depth + 1″
  • Leg length + 2″
  • Lower back crotch by 1″ (!!!)
  • Shorten front crotch (slash and overlap method) 1/2″
  • Take in the back inseam by 1/4″
  • Remove front darts and ease fullness into the waistband instead
  • Completely re-do the back darts to move them, make them longer and change the shape
  • Lots of fiddling with the side seams to downsize the waist and add width at the thigh
  • Re-draw the waistline

Hopefully now you can see why this has been an ongoing muddle since September! I’ve not got the back darts completely right, but it was time to stop fiddling and start wearing.

IMG_4396Office ceiling lamp and window 3pm Feb

Looking back at these pictures I like the idea of this style more than the reality, but I can see them getting lots of wear on British beaches in the summer month.

Trouser fitting is still the thing I most want to crack, yet still the hardest thing for me to do. I’m heading on a jeans-making course in March, so I’ll be facing up to it again then. After that I might look at developing a trouser block I can re-use for lots of different patterns.

Have you developed your own trouser block? And how do you then use it to adapt commercial patterns to fit you?

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